It is that time of year when after the sparkle of Christmas lights fade, the tree has been recycled and gifts either appreciated or not, people still need something to do. All arguments about television aside, the medium entertains a number of people. One of the ways television provides a means of engagement, is through what it offers through on-demand services. “It Factor,” a reality show from 2002, has found its way to Bravo On Demand. As a rather early reality show, “It Factor” actually manages to engage audiences with statistics and the harsh truth of what real-life is like for working and would-be working actors.
About “It Factor”
The first thing that most audiences will notice is the gritty, realistic feel of the cinematography and they will also notice that the show refers to itself. In episode 1, season one, the actors who have lined up in tremendous clumps are all auditioning to be on “It Factor.”
The actors begin in New York City, but some book jobs in California or Canada. After the first 12 actors are chosen, the rest of the episodes focus on the sometimes harsh business of being a working actor.
Sobering statistics open the show that inform viewers that there are 100,000 actors in New York City, and that less than 2 percent make a living from acting.
The odds are against the cast at the outset.
One of the interesting things about “The It Factor” is that it doesn’t just show the actors in the jobs that they hope to have, meaning, they are not just shown on the sets of shows that hire them. Instead, if an actor cleans apartments or teaches martial arts or does stand-up comedy to make a living, then that actor is shown doing those other jobs.
The show only picked 12 actors out of what looked like thousands that came to audition. Thus, it is as if the show reflects itself. The show’s creators do not reveal the statistics that impact the show. As in, how many actors showed up and what percentage of them equal the 12 that were cast? No word on that. But it almost doesn’t matter.
Why shows like “The It Factor” matter
Rather, it is worth considering why audiences tune in for a show like “The It Factor.” Granted, it first aired in 2002, and only ran for two seasons, but almost 20 years later, it is still on television.
The appeal of the show is similar to the appeal found in other shows that are built around auditions. For some reason, the idea of waiting to be deemed good enough, and being selected when the criteria for doing so is not a science, appeals to viewers.
For reasons that range from the allure of unknown outcomes, to showing an unflinching looking to would-be actors watching at home, people tune in. “The It Factor” has the same “wait-and-see” vibe as “Fame” and “A Chorus Line.” Watching actors describe how it feels to wait to hear back, or seeing them break down when their small role is edited out of a film, is harrowing in some ways for most people.
The issues that viewers will find with the acting industry as illustrated on “The It Factor” can also be found in writing, modeling and other artistic disciplines.
“The It Factor’s” original run ended in March 2003. The unscripted drama of people fighting self-doubt, poverty and hunger to chase their dreams has no end date in sight.