REALITY CHECK (abridge click here for full text) by Brad Harbison Illustration by Britt Spencer
Why does the public find pest control-related reality TV programs so compelling?
THEN YOU HAVE THE "ICK FACTOR" as Missy Henriksen, executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance, refers to it. “Roaches, spiders, rodents, bed bugs, bats and snakes are the types of things that invoke fear in many,” she said. “For much of the public, watching how skilled pest management professionals tackle extreme infestations of these scary, disease-carrying pests satisfies a morbid curiosity.”
EXTREME BEHAVIOR. Another reason cited for the public’s interest in pest control related reality programs, is the public’s curiosity with extreme behavior, including hoarding.
PERSONAL CONFLICTS. Another facet of a pest control operation that viewers can relate to is employee dynamics. As anyone who has worked in a pest control business can attest, the environment is a hodgepodge of people from different backgrounds with varying levels of education. The work can be tedious and, at times, physically demanding. On top of that, it is route-based work, where on-time service is a must. All of these factors can lead to stressful and, sometimes, drama-filled situations.
A PERFECT STORM. So just why has pest control-related television programming piqued the public’s interest in recent years? It’s really been “a perfect storm” of circumstances. Cable and satellite television now offer far more stations than they did as recently as 10 years ago, meaning they are thirsting for programming. Producers have found a winning formula with reality TV programs that both educate and entertain. And pest control is much more in the spotlight thanks to bed bugs. It really shouldn’t, then, come as a surprise that pest control and reality television have made for such a perfect match.
The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.