Can Reality Television Make Writers Sexy?

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In fall 2013, Italian television debuted “Masterpiece,” a reality-show contest (think “Top Chef”) about authors vying for a publishing-agreement prize.

Good or bad idea?

Reality shows don’t captivate me. Yet, unquestionably, reality television has reenergized professions and industries through bringing them into the spotlight. The original “Iron Chef” helped bring about the foodie and fostered the celebrity cook. Televised design competitions have increased appreciation for fashion beyond trends on display at malls and what stars wear.

Could reality television engender a new and more widespread appreciation of writing—and literature? Could an entire program about writers—hyped and edited and promoted—help make writers celebrities again and encourage an entire new audience of readers? Could seeing the challenge of someone writing something moderately palatable under extreme conditions provoke appreciation of the difficulty and craft of writing?

I don’t know.

Nothing about writing screams “fun to watch.” Most writers sit alone in front of a computer and type—often for hours at a time. You can cook and talk. You can design and talk. You can cook and design in teams that work on multiple aspects of the project at the same time. You can’t write and talk. Even if you create a team writing project, you write your section solo.

Who wants to watch people write? I don’t want to sit idly and watch someone else type—and I love writing and literature.

What kind of machinations will television producers need to undertake to make “Masterpiece” interesting? And will the machinations take the program so far away from actual writers’ realities as to make the program absurd—and to limit any real appreciation?

What do you think?