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A&E got reality TV right when they created 'Wahlburgers'

A&E got it right when they decided to create a reality show based on the Wahlberg family business.
A&E got it right when they decided to create a reality show based on the Wahlberg family business.
Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images

When reality TV came along, people did not know exactly what to make of it. “The Real World” on MTV was about as thrilling as TV got at the time--filming these people, their daily lives, and giving us, the viewer, a peek at what they did all day long, good or bad? It was great, because, whether we admit it or not, we are all snoopers; we like to know what others are doing behind closed doors. Additionally, it was naughty--what COULD we catch them doing?--and a little scary, as well--would there be cameras everywhere one day?

Nowadays, reality TV floods networks. Channels like Discovery and TLC pretty much continue to exist because of reality programming. And, as much as viewers complain about it, these shows continue to exist--and networks continue to put their toes into the reality TV waters--because that is where the viewers are, i.e. where the money is. Complain all you want, this current phase of television is nowhere near running its course.

And, as to the camera question: Yes, cameras are everywhere nowadays, so reality TV really is a snapshot of society as it is today, when you think about it. Privacy? Do we still WANT privacy? It doesn’t seem like it. Everyone wants to be on camera, on video, on YouTube, on Twitter, on Facebook--you name it, someone is taking a selfie with it and posting to social media for the world to see. Is it scary when you think about it? Well, it probably should be, but it seems like we’ve gotten past our fear of media devices and instead are looking for more and more ways to put our every action on film or video--and then put it out into the public realm.

Having said all that, A&E really got it right with what reality TV could--and should--be when they decided to give the Wahlberg family a shot at their own show, based on the family burger joint, WAHLBURGERS, ran by brother Paul. And, with this surprise hit drawing in viewers for the network, other networks should take notes: People really do like heartwarming reality.

Before the show aired, it seemed like "Wahlburgers" would probably just be cheesy self-glorification of Mark and Donnie, and promotion of a restaurant that they were hoping to grow to worldwide status. But, what anyone who has watched the show has seen is that the Wahlberg family, for all of their fame and fortune, is actually a down-to-earth, loving family. Sure, Mark flies into family functions on jets with an entourage and Donnie is adored by millions of NKOTB fans around the world. And, they have more money than most of us could pool together with every person we know or have ever met. But, within their daily reality, you see them functioning as a normal, happy family. And, it is heartwarming, refreshing TV.

You got it right, A&E; hopefully, other networks are watching.

"Wahlburgers" is returning to A&E for a second season in August, kicked off last night by a "Wahlburgers" Summer Special.