Last week, viewers of American cable television network Bravo experienced the ultimate in joyful dismay during an episode of the The Real Housewives of Orange County, which is now in its 7th season. The cast of “real-life” affluent Southern California housewives was invited to a vacation in Costa Rica, and one of the women wondered if that meant they were taking a trip to Mexico.
To be fair to Alexis (the woman who apparently needs a refresher geography course) there is a town named Costa Rica in Culiacan, in the state of Sinaloa in Mexico. It was clear from the context of the show, however, that the women were talking about Costa Rica in Central America.
Last night, Costa Rica was once again the backdrop of a reality television show. According to the recap written by Carla Patton for BuddyTV, the episode was quintessential Real Housewives fare, with the cast changing into different outfits, discussing hairstyles and plastic surgeries, bickering over inane topics, etc. A typical Real Housewives of OC episode, but in a luxury resort and with the stars taking a zip-line forest canopy tour and exaggerating their experiences.
In recent years, the number of reality TV producers who have brought their casts and crews to Costa Rica has increased, and our country stands a good chance of continuing to attract them. In the past, shows like NBC’s Love in the Wild and MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge have showcased Costa Rica.
Two of the most surreal moments in the history of reality TV involved the NBC production I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Not only was a cast member arrested here for illegal gun possession, but the former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich actually asked for permission from a U.S. federal judge to come to Costa Rica and be part of the show. At the time, the former governor was on trial for several charges of corruption, and the judge denied his request. He was later convicted and is now serving out a prison sentence.
Other reality TV shows that have done some filming in Costa Rica include Amazing Race, Man vs. Wild, The Bachelor, Temptation Island, and Three Sheets. A reality TV producer actually opened an office here in Costa Rica earlier this year: Mark Lugo Creative Entertainment (MLCE). That group is listed as one of the creators of El Gran Peleador, a mixed martial arts reality show, and is currently working on another sports-themed reality show that stars a legendary Tico professional football player -Alonso “El Mariachi” Solis. The name of the show is On the Goal, and according to its press release, the show will follow:
“football stars as they travel around the world, often leaving their family behind for months. The program aims to show viewers what that life is like, with all of the stress, loneliness and emotional highs that it entails.”
We can only hope that more television and film productions take place in Costa Rica and take advantage of our fledgling film industry.
As for last night’s episode of Real Housewives of OC; it is clear that fans of reality television have a love/hate relationship with the stars of their favorite shows. These characters are often portrayed as people with dubious moral sensibilities and questionable intelligence who move from one faux pas to another, and yet audiences keep coming back from more of this “scripted reality.”
It’s like the proverbial train wreck no one can seem to look away from.