Since so much of Donald Trump’s reality is mediated through television, perhaps it’s best to view the trajectory of his candidacy as if it were a reality show that hit it big in the beginning but then saw its audience diminish over the years, buoyed at the end only by the most ardent of fans who faithfully watched.
At first the Trump reality show captivated, excited, and entertained, garnering a wide audience even among highbrows who knew it was a guilty pleasure but couldn’t stop indulging and even took it seriously as an expression of something deep down in our culture.
And for a few cycles it had a good run, nudging toward the top of the ratings, surprising viewers, keeping the media off balance, and driving the cultural narrative as the first such show of its kind.
But then, as with most entertainment, its surprises became routine, its plot twists grew stale, its dramatic arc got repetitive, its gimmicks felt tawdry, and it ceased to amuse or even engage.
Some viewers stopped watching because they sought better and more serious TV. Others who once saw it as a guilty pleasure began to find the shock value that once gave it such currency a bit off-putting and even distasteful. Those who never went along for the ride felt vindicated, while those who watched because it was the thing to do began to feel a bit sickened that they allowed themselves to get sucked into its mass appeal.
The show of course remains on air in part because it still has a coterie of diehard fans who stick with it, follow every storyline, believe it says something about their lives, and idolize the host as they often do with any celebrity — no matter how undignified — who commands their loyalty.
But the rest of us? Call what we’re experiencing Trump fatigue. The show no longer entertains; in fact it’s gotten boring and irritating and even offensive and unappealing, and we don’t want to see it anymore dominating on our screens.
Unless the preliminary ratings are wrong, November 8 will be the final episode of Donald Trump’s show. Until, that is, when a new one with a new host tries to capture the magic of what made this one so popular and attempts to foist it upon us in a season ahead.
Originally published on Political Wire.