“Reality TV” is one of those phrases that inevitably begs for scare quotes — with its staged scenes and melodramatic confessions, a reality TV show’s relationship with reality can be … complicated. But Morgan Spurlock, director of documentaries like Super Size Me, suggested that the new online video series Connected might live up to “the promise of reality television.”
AOL (which owns TechCrunch) is launching the series today by posting the first four episodes. Connected is based on the Israeli show of the same name, with (in this case) six New Yorkers given handhold cameras to record their lives.
Each episode is a little under 30 minutes long, making this AOL’s first move into “longform” video. In the video above, Spurlock (who’s one of the executive producers on the show) and AOL’s video president Dermot McCormack talked about the big bet that the company is making on the program.
By using online distribution, Spurlock said, “the filter is pulled away,” because the show didn’t have to shy away from risqué content. The goal, he added, was “to create a show from a nonfiction standpoint that would rival something that you would see on subscription or late-night, basic cable.”
But does giving someone a camera really lead to more honesty? Sure, there’s not a big crew following the cast members around, but aren’t they still performing for the camera? Spurlock said that’s true — but only at first.
“Once that period is gone and they become, like, human beings again, then that’s when the magic comes,” he said. “Because what starts to happen is, they do become normal, they do become real; it becomes cathartic as they start to share their lives and these intimate moments with us.”