I think I've mentioned before on this blog that I watch more TV now that I'm married and we have Dish Network. I probably still watch less TV than the average person, but one show I do like to watch is 1 vs. 100. I also see a bit of Deal or No Deal occasionally, as Eugene likes that show. Personally, I find the drama on that show a bit over the top for my taste, and since it's all based on chance, it's not as interesting to me as a show that tests general knowledge.
One thing I've noticed about both shows is that I find a significant fraction of their contestants annoy me. The main trait I find annoying is arrogance. (Sue talked a little bit about arrogance in her blog today, which is part of the inspiration for this blog entry.) Every contestant on those shows is convinced when he or she first comes on that he or she will get the top prize. That's to be expected; it's human nature to think the best of yourself. What turns confidence into arrogance, IMO, is when the contestants dismiss the odds against them or insult the mob members on 1 vs. 100. Sometimes when the insults or cockiness reaches a certain level, I lose sympathy for the contestant. Also, sometimes contestants don't seem to realize how hard it's going to be to reach the top prize. Having been on Jeopardy! (and getting my own arrogance beaten out of me ;) ), I know the shows are harder than they appear. Sometimes the contestants learn that lesson as they play; others cling to their original mindsets for as long as they're on the show.
Sometimes contestants are annoying for other reasons, such as a certain type of laugh, an over-used catch phrase, or some other trait. One college student on DonD last year liked the color lime green--a very bright neon green. She and her supporters all wore the color. It's not to my taste and not a color I'd want to look at.
Why am I bothering to blog about this? It occured to me today that watching people on these kinds of shows can provide writers with character traits to use in their works. Arrogance would be a good quality to give a villain, while secondary characters (or even primary ones) can be fleshed out with quirks like the ones I listed above. The only thing is that certain traits may be harder to convey in writing than through TV. Just as describing an attractive person is less intense than seeing a movie star, so is it harder to make a reader hate a particular laugh than someone who can hear it. I'm sure it can be done, but it might be easier to show others reacting to the trait than describing it.
Having discussed negative traits, I should come up with inspirations for positive traits for heroes. That'll have to be another blog entry, though; it's close to bedtime for me.