Real Talk: My Obsession with Reality Television

By: Chaviva Freedman  |  March 3, 2017

Reality TV

If you ask any of my friends for one thing that characterizes me, many would exclaim, “Don’t ask her about her love for reality TV! She’ll go on for a long time about it!” It’s true – I have a deep-rooted love for the stupidity that is this television genre, and I don’t care who knows about it.

I can’t even remember when my love for reality television started. Maybe it started with watching American Idol as a child in elementary school. Maybe it was when I snuck behind my parents’ backs to watch the first run of the popular show America’s Next Top Model. Maybe it stems from my mom who only wanted me to watch educational television growing up. I truly don’t know. What I can tell you is that when all the stress of the week gets to me, I take out my laptop, go to a streaming website, and I will sit and watch the most ridiculous reality show I could find for a ridiculous amount of time. I could only describe the process as a de-sensitizing of the brain, and when I decide I’ve had enough, I feel like my brain is less clouded and I could go back to whatever I pushed off doing.

You might ask me, what is the point of watching all of this bad television? There are a myriad of reasons to watch it. First off – not all of the reality shows airing on TV are so bad. Take Chopped, for example. We all know at least one person who watches the food competition show, and we all know another person who wishes they could be as creative as the chefs featured on it. I honestly don’t see that as a bad thing – my love of cooking really started when I began watching the Food Network. Or take The Voice, the show that gives someone a chance to achieve his or her dreams and make it in the music industry. No one makes fun of the people that watch it, and frankly, if the show inspires you to go out and find yourself, then I see no harm in it. 

But those “bad” reality shows, like any of the shows from The Real Housewives franchise? Yes, I will admit – those are just plain awful. The sheer pettiness that comes from being featured on a show like that… I wouldn’t know where to begin. And don’t even get me started on the franchise that is Love and Hip Hop – just as awful, but with some pretty famous names, like rapper Remy Ma (who, by the way, is my favorite from the New York edition). I personally find that franchise entertaining for the fact that the situations the stars get themselves into look as if they are scripted, because let’s be real – most of the “issues” that come up probably didn’t happen. And what about The Bachelor, aka the reality show of Stern College for Women? We all know about the Monday night watch parties in the dorm lounges. Also – what’s the point in it? A bunch of girls chasing after one guy? Just hop on the shuttle, go to the library on the Wilf Campus and simply watch – it’s essentially the same show! But the worst of the worst goes to the explosion I like to call Keeping Up with the Kardashians. As my dad likes to say, “It’s literally a train wreck, but not one person can stop themselves from watching it.” Although I happen to be one of those people who somehow can limit herself from sinking that low on the television spectrum, I do understand the pull the show has on viewers. Who wouldn’t want to see a family famous for some pretty scandalous things sit around a table and eat a large, store-bought salad? It’s like living the dream that we never knew existed!

I’ll be honest – watching reality television has its moments. Sometimes the show is so ridiculous that you wonder how someone could think like that, a la Jessica Simpson’s “Is this chicken or is this fish” debacle from the reality show she starred in with her ex-husband Nick Lachey. Sometimes the show depicts the inner workings of something you wouldn’t know how to do, like Shark Tank, where real-life business deals occur on camera. Although the genre usually doesn’t provide anything to enhance our IQ, reality television does supply us with one thing that everyone needs in this day and age – entertainment. We all need to have a small break from the craziness we call our own lives, so by watching someone else go through some senseless drama, we perform a sort-of mind numbing and believe for a small second that our lives are simple and good. And with all that is happening in the world of U.S. politics, I could venture to say that we are living in our own reality show!

Does this mean that I am going to stop cold turkey and never watch another reality show again? Probably not. In fact, by the time this article gets published, I probably will find another program with a ridiculous premise that will compel me to watch it. It’s become so ingrained in my brain that the only way for me to truly relax and unwind is to watch reality television. Maybe in the future, I will recover from this phase in my life. Until then, I’ll be on my laptop, enjoying myself in my own form of nonsense.