If you want to see what Peep looks and feels like, put down this book and turn on your television. (Don't do that: keep reading, watch TV later.) There are hundreds of television shows and at least three channels entirely dedicated to Peep culture. The shows you should watch include game shows (Moment of Truth), talent shows (American Idol; America's Next Top Model), cooking shows (Hell's Kitchen), sitcoms (The Real World), sci-fi shows (UFO Hunters, Ghost Hunters), detective shows (Arrest and Trial, Dog the Bounty Hunter), romance shows (The Bachelor, A Shot at Love), outdoor adventure shows (Survivor, Crocodile Hunter), home improvement shows (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), travel shows (The Amazing Race), soap operas (The Hills), dramas (The Real Housewives of Orange County), self-help shows (Intervention, Nanny 911), sports shows (Bound For Glory, American Gladiators), business shows (The Apprentice), and comedies (The Simple Life, The Surreal Life). The channels you should watch are Fox Reality—"all reality all the time"; TruTV—formally Court TV (new tagline: "not reality, actuality"); and VH1—once MTV's nerdy light-rock-loving cousin but now the go-to channel for B-list-celebrity reality TV (think of it as MTV's kind of crazy middle-aged aunt).

Now I don't want to give the impression that Peep culture is in any way confined to reality TV. In fact, I want to give the opposite impression: there are three specialty channels and hundreds of shows devoted to reality because Peep is so completely mainstream that it can, like golf, weather, and food, easily support dedicated twenty-four-hour streams of infotainment. I'm starting with reality TV because it's the one example of Peep we can all instantly recognize. The names and formats of the shows may come and go, but the concept—ordinary people watch ordinary people in settings from the domestic to the exotic—stays the same.

Reality TV is the most obvious incarnation of Peep culture, but the predominance of celebrity "news" runs a strong second. Celebrity gossip site alone gets 4.5 million hits a day. (founded by Harvey Levin—who made his name reporting on the O. J. Simpson trial—and now run in partnership with AOL) is widely credited for being the first to bring us such media events as the mug-shot photo and details of Mel Gibson's drunk-driving arrest and subsequent anti-Semitic rant; Seinfeld star Michael Richard's racist harangue at a comedy club; photographs of the interior of Anna Nicole Smith's "death fridge" stocked with methadone and SlimFast; and, last but not least, the complete audio of the raving answering-machine message that Alec Baldwin left for his eleven-year-old daughter, in which he calls her "a thoughtless little pig." (TMZ poll: Should the judge terminate Baldwin's visitation rights? Yes: 59 percent, no: 41 percent, total votes: 432,818.)


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