A reader writes:
Do you think that being on a reality TV show would adversely affect my ability to get a job? I am not currently slated to be on one, but if I were to do this, I wonder what the ramifications on my future job prospects might be. I'm talking about a Survivor-type show, nothing like sexy, island orgy stuff.
As a major fan of a slew of reality TV shows, especially bad ones, this question is like a Christmas present to me, so thank you.
First, may I say that I love your confidence? You are not slated to be on TV currently, but feel that there's a decent chance you could make it happen. And that is awesome.
Okay, so let's look at best case and worst case scenarios.
Best case, you're on a respectable show and conduct yourself in a respectable manner. You don't freak out on other contestants, you don't become known as the a-hole of the cast, and the show itself isn't about drunken antics or sexcapades. In this scenario, nothing negative attaches to your reputation, but you acquire a persona that may or may not accurately reflect who you are. So prospective employers -- at least those who may know you from the show -- feel like they know things about you, and those things may not be (a) accurate, (b) relevant, or (c) any of their business. You come with baggage, which could be good or bad -- maybe they like the idea of hiring the guy from that show and think it's a cool novelty perk, or maybe they'd feel cheesy hiring that guy.
Worst case, you implode in some spectacular way, or are edited to appear like a jerk, or end up on a show that develops some notoriety. (For instance, did those "Jersey Shore" people realize what they were getting into?) Then you've got all of the factors from the previous paragraph, but with a particularly negative spin on them.
You also have to remember about unintended consequences. The show could be totally respectable, your behavior could be impeccable, and you could still end up associated with something negative through something you didn't anticipate -- some unforeseen action of your castmates, or, hell, even just the fact that if any of us were filmed 24/7 we'd be highly likely to say or do something unfit for public consumption. (Oooh, that reminds me! I once knew someone who went on the WB's "Blind Date," accidentally behaved like a douche, and nearly lost his job over it.)
That said, I suspect there are always people who will hire someone specifically because they've been on TV. So it depends on who you want to work for.
On the other hand, if you're on a show designed to showcase your professional talent, like Top Chef, none of these rules apply.
If anyone wants to work other things I like into a question, you are pretty much guaranteed a fast reply.