Reality of TV vs. real life professions

Everything on television these days is either over scripted or over dramatic. With today’s reality-based shows, it seems that the entertainment world is trying to get a better grip on reality, but what is the “real” reality behind all those over-the-top TV shows?

When it comes to professionals such as policemen, nurses, or chefs, these are difficult to accurately personify on camera. The problem is  that they are serious occupations, but does TV take the right steps in portraying them as they really are?

Cold Case, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds are only a few current shows featuring on-screen cops. But do these shows come close to the real life of an officer?

Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police at UMHB, Gary Sargent, was actually led to his career by a TV show series called Adam 12. As an adult, he has become less involved in shows with police characters.

Sargent said, “I have been doing this for 30 years, and there have probably been about two or three days of drama like you see on TV shows all combined together. Most of it is just daily doing the same things over and over again.”

He explained that some people have been in law enforcement for many years and have never even had to draw their weapon.

“It is kind of like being a fireman. When the bell rings, you have to be able to perform, but the bell does not ring that often. That is what it is no matter where you are at in your law enforcement career.What you see on TV is just not accurate portrayal.”

Another profession that is seen frequenting the television screen is nursing. With shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Nurse Jackie, and HawthoRNe, nurses are on every channel.

Coordinator of Health Services, RN Debbie Rosenberger, said, “Most of them are not portrayed very well. They show us not adhering to our scope of practice and not being very compassionate and pretty ditzy in a lot of them.”

She adds that there are a few shows that portray nurses with morals and character, but not many.

“I do take great exception when they portray us as not caring because nurses are held in one of the highest regards for our credibility and our compassion, and I dislike it when the media erodes that.”

She said that nurses are supposed to be patient advocates and that she would like to be able to turn on a show where they act as such.

Another on-camera profession that has grown in popularity is that of a chef. From shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Top Chef, and Iron Chef America, the culinary art is growing. But how capable are these food heroines?

Chuck Rezach, executive chef with Sodexo for food services at UMHB, who has been in the food business for about 20 years, said, “Most TV doesn’t show the true facts of what actually goes on in the kitchen. You don’t really see the work that goes into it when they are on camera. It is handed right in front of them.”

Rezach says his favorite show is Hell’s Kitchen because it is closer to what really goes on in the kitchen.

“When they put out an inferior product, it has to be thrown away, and the people don’t understand all that.”

Rezach adds that a lot of on-screen cooks are actors playing a part.

Rezach said, “If you put them in a real life kitchen head to head, most of them aren’t going to be able to perform like you see them portrayed on TV.”

Author: Kirby Franze

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