It is another flimsy show that is billed as a reality, yet Fly Girls makes me more angry than watching other shows which are arguably even more scripted. Why does this particular show's status as 'reality' make some so uncomfortable?
Although it does offer many opportunities to make airplane-related innuendo which aren't normally called for in day to day communication, Fly Girls as a 'reality show' appears to have more complex intentions. It is fairly obvious that it is both a half-hour long advertisement for Virgin Airlines, as well as a vestige of an almost lost sexual fantasy - the mile-high club. However, I have digressed on both of these subjects in the past and will therefore only provide one example of this phenomenon in last night's episode. The clip is fun, it shows flight attendants having a good time, while still relying on ridiculous stereotypes which could be considered harmful depending on who is watching or who is writing. All and all, this appears to be one point of the show - to show people performing a variety of roles which conform to particular ideas or particular gazes - yet that isn't only what makes this show so frustrating.
Don't get me wrong - numerous critics have slammed this show for its incessant portrayal of out-dated sexist stereotypes of 1960s air-stewardesses, and I am no exception. It is, however, only a part of what makes it so annoying and difficult to watch. Another aspect of this being its complete underestimation of the viewer, and its employment of reality show tropes combined with awkward, unprofessional acting that makes The Hills look like a Tony-award winning play. The forced situations and the complete two-dimensionality of the characters being presented makes it impossible to empathize with these women, and returns our gaze back to what was intended with the show - to view these women as bodies and as portrayals of a fantasy world to sell more tickets for Virgin air.
In this scene Louise is supposed to be upset, so they construct a scene in which she is bumbling with drink-service, 'accidentally' spilling something all over the lap of an 'unsuspecting' man. She gets one drink order wrong, and the wronged says "hun," with the old raspy voice of a wise woman sitting at the end of a bar who gives a troubled soul some unsuspected, yet appreciated advice. The information here, however, does not directly come from her, but the forced acting and the entire scene which serves to illustrate for the viewer that this woman is in stress and we, for some reason, are supposed to care. We don't though, because the show isn't scripted enough for character development, and it isn't real enough to illicit any emotional response. It's like watching a kid put a thermometer under a lamp, and preparing herself for her moment by practicing her cough.
Then there are the obvious mistakes like this one. The first shot has Nikole talking to her boyfriend sitting side by side, and in the next she is across the room. This, however, is not the first time continuity errors have been found in 'reality' television; it is just more annoying because it is followed by the attempted construction of a 'real' situation in which not even the characters look terribly involved.
This post could have been about the ridiculousness of the term 'reality,' these days. In the age of Jersey Shore, it is hard to argue that even the seemingly most genuine shows are not scripted in some sense - the internalization of the reality show tropes and stereotypes that we have been watching for ages are now reproduced by the people applying for the shows seemingly without any intervention by the shows producers. Reality as a medium is dead, but shows like Fly Girls don't even try to fool the viewer - they use the term 'reality' to lend credence to an advertisement by connecting it to a strong desire of human beings to be able to view outside of a given, framed perspective.
So, goodbye Fly Girls, you "make a lot of mistakes" as Nikole says, but I'm not sure what good you are doing for anyone.