It’s a fact, and most people in Israel aren’t surprised to hear that Israeli TV reality shows, including Star is Born, Super Nanny, Born to Dance, and Israel’s version of The Survivors, have perpetually received much higher ratings than news and other broadcasts. These programs are not that different from American reality shows, including The Bachelor, American Idol, Trading Spouses, and a host of others.

Reality ShowsMany of these ‘song and dance’ reality shows, involve hundreds of contestants vie for a beginning position that ends up weeks later with only one candidate winning first place. In the most recent of these programs, “Born to dance”, hosted by Israel’s “favorite MC” Tzvika Hadar; three contestants reached the finals, in which a young man named Natanel (pictured) won a first prize of NS 100,000. While this is not big money as compared to something in American or UK TV, it gives the final contestants a lot of exposure that can result in being awarded private entertainment contracts later on. Ratings are very important to these programs and Israel’s two commercial TV channels, Channel 2 and Channel 10 are constantly competing with each other for a big share of the nightly viewing audience. Since both channels have commercials, that “share” is very important as it means more contracts with companies that pay top money for prime-time ‘spots’ on TV.

Star is Born, Israel’s equivalent to American Idol, has produced such talent as Nanette Taib, Shiri Maimon, and Boaz Maudi, this year’s Eurovision song contest participant.

While Channel 2 has the monopoly with the singing and dancing programs, competitor Channel 10 has come up with programs like Super Model and Survivors, which manage to pull in a good deal of fickle viewers who make sure they are parked in front of their plasma or regular TVs when their favorite reality show comes on. The Survivors show, which began with two groups of contestants being “cast” onto a seemingly deserted Caribbean tropical isle (actually a national park in the Dominican Republic), has been on for a couple of months now; and viewers get to watch the intimate trials and tribulations of the participants, who have to endure tropical storms, horrible food, countless attacks by mosquitoes and other insects, as well as undergo very difficult physical contests staged by the show’s MC, Guy Hamerei. As in other reality programs, only one “survivor” will finally prevail to collect a prize of NS 1,000,000 ($274,000) and a new Land Rover SUV.

Indeed, watching these types of programs allows people to momentarily escape the actual reality of life, especially in a country like Israel where the real “reality” often involves terror attacks, and war. At least by getting involved in these programs and having empathy with many of the participants, it takes many peoples minds off ‘the real thing’ that is so graphically portrayed on the news programs nightly.

And if the Israeli reality shows are not enough to excite people, then thanks to satellite and cable TV, there’s always American Idol, The Bachelor, and all the other foreign reality programs to keep even the most discriminating viewer glued to the “boob tube” for at least a couple of hours.