Balloon Boy and Reality TV


Over the weekend, one of the major news stories was about “balloon boy,” a six-year-old boy who was believed to have gone up in a giant hot-air balloon shaped like a UFO (unidentified flying object; spaceship) that his father had built in the backyard.  The boy’s parents called the police and told them that they thought six-year-old Falcon was in the balloon.  When the balloon finally landed (came down to the ground), the boy was not on board (inside).  It turns out that Falcon was in the attic (room below the roof) the entire time.

As more and more information becomes available, this entire episode (event) may have been a hoax (fraud; deception).  When the family was interviewed on one of the many TV news shows, the boy Falcon was asked why he hadn’t come out of the attic sooner and he responded, “You guys said we did this for the show,” which seemed to signal (give the indication) that this was staged (prepared; planned).

At the same time, more information became available about his parents.  The family had been on a reality TV show called “Wife Swap,” in which the wife/mother of two very different families exchange places for a short time.  Falcon’s parents had also pitched (proposed) a reality show to one of the cable networks (set of TV stations) for a show about their wacky (unusual and funny) family, which the network had passed on (rejected).  It now appears that this may have all been a publicity stunt (action to get public attention) and the police are considering filing charges (officially saying that someone has broken the law) against these parents.

Turning children into entertainers is nothing new.  There have been child actors, performers, singers, etc., since the beginning of time.  With the rise of (increasing popularity of) reality TV shows, however, there are more and more families putting their lives in front of the camera.  A recent example is the show “Jon and Kate Plus Eight,” about a family with eight young children, whose parents in recent months have split up (separated; divorced) and have been publicly feuding (fighting; arguing).

Is this “family reality TV” trend taking place in other countries and what do you think of it?

~ Lucy

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25 Responses to Balloon Boy and Reality TV

  1. emiliano says:

    It seems incredible but it was the afternoon´s news here in Madrid. On the radio, and the TV., all were talking about the boy, where
    was he?. What happened?.., and so on.

    I don´t use to listen to the radio or the TV., but Cuca does, in fact the radio.
    All night the radio was speculating about the boy, if it was true or not that he got into the balloon and how it may happened…

    It was and odd new of course, and afterward when I saw the father so calm, I thought it may be just a trick, but usually I am very
    incredulous, but it is my natural way of seeing things so I was not estranged when we know the true story.

    An of course, we were happy about the children who was safe amused in the house. But the parents…..?

    I prefer not to say anything about their behavior.

  2. elcomandant says:

    About this matter, I want to say that it’s shameful. I think that if somebody wants to sell your intimity, it’s your decision. Surely this is because there is somebody that buy it. But, please, let’s not sell the children. Maybe, this child will sell his intimity also when he were a man, but maybe doesn’t it. At this moment is just a child. So you shouldn’t take advantage of him. Let’s not spoil them.

    That’s why I think that his parents must be punished seriously for that. And if any TV Channel had been involved in this issue must be punished, too. Please, let’s leave the children alone.


  3. magda says:

    Here in Brazil we have a program in the same way of the Wife Swap,where the mother/wife of two different families exchange their homes during a week.

  4. dini says:

    i am very sorry for the 8 children whose parents has just splitted up , i have seen on tv their show a few times and they seemed ( the parents ) quite a nice couple who liked each other but the publicity and the cameras could bring problems everywhere even in a loving family …


  5. Francesco says:

    Hi jeff, the same happens in Italy too, but these TV shows are not as popular as they are in the U.S. I think. In fact we have the exact program running on the TV sat but just a few people have a satellite to watch the show.. Of course we have unfortunately the big brother and stuff like this that are considered to be rubbish program by most of the people. However, people should not wash their dirty laundry in public!
    Bye Fra

  6. Peter says:

    Well, whatever floats viewers boat , sis

    Another words ,What ever makes them money would do it.very lucretive business , isn’t it

    The way I see it , it is morally wrong to get kids behind the camera to make some green out of them. By rights, they are not suppsed to do so. But, who cares as long as it brings money home. The reality show or whatever you kids name it these days has been around since Adam .to me , it is merely a way of making fast / easy money , and in large scale.
    One day it is a wife swap and the other day is a lover spat.the base is all the same ; the only thing that changes Is the gimmicky look of fact, gimmickry is what the industry is based on.

    Lucy, not all the countries have the budget , and the technology to do so.

  7. That´s sad how parents can expose your children to obtain popularity.
    Looks like there are thousand of unoccupied people that prefer watch other´s life through reality show instead of have fun with you family, read a book, listening esl podcast ( 🙂 ) or make something useful.

  8. Fabienne says:

    Hello everybody,

    I can’t believe this kind of “family reality TV” (Jon and Kate Plus Eight)could exist !!! Here in france, we have some of them like Wife Swap and Big Brother.
    It makes me think about a very good movie with Jim Carrey “The Truman Show”. Now, I know that reality can goes beyond fiction…Really frightening!

  9. Daniele says:

    Who is the child Falcon or his Parents?
    Get a job as normal people do.

  10. Fred says:

    Why I can’t leave a message here ?

  11. Nastia Ivanova says:

    Poor children:(
    I feel so sorry for them to have such parents. These parents would better find some good job or hobby and not show their stupidity. Poor boy, he looked so frightened.
    Here in Russia we don’t have reality shows involving children or family members. We have only a couple of reality shows with youngsters. They are watched only by poorly educated young people. The most famous is called “Dom 2” (“House 2”) and as a rule it is highly hated among elders.

  12. peter says:

    guys,hold your horses!

    Get off your high horses and give the parent a break.

    Here,show biz is a very lucretive,or profitable is not that the couple have sent them to poorhouse to work. On the contrary ,they want the best for their child.They want him to be rich and famouse.what is wrong with that.ofcourse , they would benefit alongside him. Please note that they don’t push him to become a backroom boy; they want him to work on the floor , if you know what I mean.

    I wish I had such parents.

  13. emiliano says:

    Peter, a good phrase….hold your horses, I like it.

    May be there are so a lot of silly people who like silly things and they are so bored with their own lifes that need to peering other lifes through the
    reality shows or gossiping about their neighbor´s life. Yes, that´s true, but I think all have their limits, and people who are not so silly or have a
    little more mind have to do something about the bad resources that TV. is asking for to entertainig the share.
    We have to care children´s life and the matter is not to want the best for our sons, no, the matter is to aducate them propperly. To let know
    them “honesty” “fair play” and so on. In a word “good education” and values.
    Money is important, but it is not all if we have enough to a good surviving life.

    Peter, I know you have to work hard to survive but I am sure you have good values about life and that is something you learn when you are a
    You can get money afterward, but not honesty and respect which it is much more difficult.

  14. Clara says:

    Dear Lucy,
    my English is still laborious, but I want all the same to take part in your blog. In Italy too there are TV programs where children appear to prove their skill singing and dancing or how they are good at figures and so forth. Always I’m impressed by their attitude; they wear suits and ties as adult man or evening dress with ribbons, full of glitters as women and sometimes they are even made up. I feel awkward for them, they are ridiculous and their parents pervert their nature.
    Maybe I’m too much over the hill.

  15. Tina says:

    How real would you be if you knew the camera is rolling and millions of people would be watching?
    I for myself know that I couldn’t be real and therefore don’t like reality-TV-shows at all.
    Yet,the success of these reality shows isn’t something new. We as human beings tend to like to put our noses in other people’s matters, and especially if this person is famous. We like to entertain ourselves this way and maybe to dismiss our own problems. But like many things, there is a positive side to these shows, too: they give us topics to chat about, and, especially for the non-native speaker, another opportunity to practice our English. 🙂

  16. peter says:


    You may be right that sometimes people don’t know when to quit ,but please note that it is totally diferent by getting ahead of yourself. The fact is , I am not married and I don’t have any children,but I know for fact that all parents want what is the best for their children. So , sometimes it happens that they may give them a nudge to slide them to the right path. I know for sure that you as a parent, at some points, has taken some drastic measure to guide them to what you think is beneficiary for them didn’t you my friend?

    So , let’s stop passing judgment on people

  17. emiliano says:

    Peter, yes, I agree with your point. Who are we to judge people?. That´s right.

    What I wanted to remark you is that very often I have listened to the parents, even when my daughter were children, that they wanted “the best”
    to their children.
    But sometimes “the best” is not the good.
    Who knows what is the best?
    In terms of money? of things? of love? of honesty? responsability?.

    Always it sounded horrible to me, “the best”…….?? what is that?….what is the meaning of this expression?

    To me the best can be something very different than for you. It depends of the country you live, the city, the sorrroundings, and also the time you are living.
    More important, the education of the people who “want the best for their children”.

    The best is always changing, and always depends of the people who feel and think so many different ways, but there some things that never change, along the years some values are always the same which ever land you live or whichever time you are passing by, and you know perfectly well what they are. That´s the point, if you are a decent and honest person you know what are you going to give your children.

    You don´t need to have children to know what you like to teach them. I am sure.

    All the best (in a really good way) for you Peter.

  18. emiliano says:

    All the best for you, is an English expression that we spaniards don´t use very much, We don´t really say to a friend or relative “I wish all the best to you” it sound very odd in Spanish.
    But we may say “I want the best to my son or my daughter” and what is more frecuently and I used to hear to these parents I told you before is:
    “Quiero que a mi hijo/a no le falte de nada”……I want that my daughter or my son doesn´t lack of anything. And of course this sentence is
    the one I dislike.
    Just because it is refered to material things always, not values or ethic or good manners, education and so on. NO, things, too many things that I, or She
    didn´t have when we were children.
    The best food, the best dress, toys, a p.c., a bedroom for each one,…….so I need too much money to give them all these things.

    That´s the gift of the question. Less things and much more good education, honesty, respect, freedoom, etc.

    I didn´t give too many things to my daughters, no, they have a bedroom for the three, and they have enough always. But Cuca and me gave them, I think, good education, honesty, ethic, and a free mind.

    Sorry by the speech, but this a very good topic, I think.
    Also to love and the way to know which is the real price of everything. If they wanted for something they knew it has a cost and an effort.

  19. tarik says:

    I watched that news at cnn website I dont want to blame that family initially but spot light freaks are everywhere unfortunately this kind of stuff makes house wifes and children stupid who watches tv very much. there are fake loves,argues it those reality shows.

  20. Tania says:

    Hi ! I agree with you , Emiliano . Interesting topics . And Elcomandant is right : leave the children alone .

    In the mean-time , the mother of the 6-year-old admitted the whole saga was a hoax . The motive for the fabricated story was to make the Heene family more marketable for future media interest . The Sherrif will recommend charges against the boy’s family including conspiracy , contributing to the delinquency of a minor , making a false report to authorities .
    The most serious charges are felonies and carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison .

    Maybe you don’t like , still I wish you all
    All the best for you all ,


  21. Tania says:

    Welcome among our friends , Dini ! Are you from Romania ? I am from Roumania , too . I like your opinion .


  22. siddiqi says:


    Ballon story is a practical joke and i like it. Mostly in our cournty this kind of thing never happen. Here is everything base on reality. And if some one wish to sea the realiy he or she should visist our country Afghanistan.

  23. Paulo Lopes says:

    I can´t belive in this kind of family. they are all creazy. Here in Brazil is not differente. there are have some programs of TV than do that, too. ” Casos de familia”

  24. Vlad says:

    I think that reality shows are becoming more and more ordinary TV shows (I’m being optimistic). So, to hold public attention they (the industry) try, at each new show, to be even more appellative, sometimes bizarre, like the Falcon boy episode related.

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