I’ve been watching reality television since way before self-quarantine was a familiar term. Singing competitions, cooking competitions, house-flipping, design challenges, weight loss journeys, love and marriage journeys, pretty much everything except the medical ones (I’m squeamish). I make no apology for what others might label my lack of taste. These shows are mindless entertainment for me, and in no way measure my intellect. Instead, I consider them to be background noise on the t.v. while I’m knitting and unwinding. I know I’m not alone, or they wouldn’t be so popular, right?
I’m grateful that my own “reality” is a good one, so I’m not in the market for an escape. Yet I can’t exactly put my finger on how or why these shows appeal to me. It’s not because their lives make mine look better because my life is pretty dandy. And it’s not because I’m a voyeur at heart (at least I don’t think I am). And it’s certainly not because I want to see what someone can cook with squid ink, fig preserves, and cracklings.
I know for sure that the competition-based reality shows appeal to me. I like to predict who’s going to win, and I like to choose my most and least favorite people in every show I watch. I confess that I’ve even cast a vote or two (although not lately). I also find that the sense of community this genre brings to me is fun. I compare notes with other fans about for whom “the tribe has spoken” and who’s going to actually marry their foreign fiance. My friends and I share sympathy for the singers who have come to the end of the road, and how we feel genuine pride for those gastric bypass patients who’ve finally conquered their food addiction.
On the other hand, watching reality shows as an escape seems like a paradox to me, mainly because I have it on good information that most reality shows are at least partially scripted. How much is reality, anyway? Regardless, they’re a genre that’s yet to burn out in popularity. From a production standpoint (something about which I know nothing), I would venture to say these shows are inexpensive to make, and if you land on a winning premise, the royalty checks can roll in for years.
Personally, I only know of two people who’ve actually been on a reality show. And I don’t really know of anybody who would want to be on one. Yet I continue to watch. Please don’t judge me.
If you have enough self-confidence to admit you’re a reality t.v. watcher, please take the following quiz and comment with your answers:
- American Idol or The Voice?
- 90 Day Fiance or The Bachelor?
- Chopped or Beat Bobby Flay?
- Property Brothers or Love It or List It?
- Survivor or Amazing Race?
- Keeping Up With the Kardashians or SpongeBob SquarePants?
(I just threw that last one in to see if you were paying attention.)
I will anxiously await your response.
The Mediator has spoken.