I have a very love/hate relationship with reality shows, ever since way back when “Survivor” seemed to give the genre its booming popularity. For those who have read my blog in the past, you may know that I do enjoy some shows like “Tattoo Nightmares”, “Ink Master”, “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen”. I’d like to take this week’s blog to share my personal history and like/dislike of reality TV.
Back when the genre was really starting to gain popularity, I used to indulge in fun shows like “Survivor”, “Fear Factor”, and “The Amazing Race” (a show I still enjoy though haven’t been following). On the flipside, to my now older self’s chagrin, I also got almost equal enjoyment out of shows like “Big Brother”, “The Simple Life” (earning my dislike for Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie), and “For Love or Money”. I knew even at a younger age that the reality aspect of these shows was skewed and exaggerated, which tended to make me lean towards competitive or life-changing shows.
Even in more recent years, despite not watching as much TV as I once did, I still enjoy shows that try to improve someone’s life or present fun (and often dramatic) competitions. I’ve seen more “good” reality shows than bad, and yet the genre is one that easily makes me cringe more than any other. Why? I think it’s partly because I know people, whether in a good or bad reality show, go on looking for attention. It doesn’t matter if they’re pursuing fame, a hookup or some big prize, they all want to get something out of it. What makes one show different from another is the “prize” at stake.. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” bill themselves as helping people with real problems, be it losing weight or having a decent place to live. I like these shows because a result is formed, even if it’s temporary, and the “prize” is something that benefits the person aside from getting a trip or winning money.
Where reality shows fall apart for me is when the situation starts to feel extremely unbelievable and unrelatable. My biggest offender for this is basically every dating show ever made, especially “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” series. While for some people the prospect of falling in love in a short amount of time (surrounded by many other men/women) may be plausible, I never once bought into it. That’s not to slam anyone who, in real life, HAS fallen in love and had a lasting relationship in little time, but in the land of reality TV it just never clicked with me. It always felt fake and implausible to me, and it shows with how few couples have managed to make it from such shows. I think one reason why I enjoyed “For Love or Money” back then was because it was more competition-like. Choices could be made so that if the man or woman standing in the end didn’t feel the butterflies of true love, they could opt for a cash prize for all their troubles. Sure. it’s incredibly shallow, but at least it didn’t try to completely push for a relationship by the end.
Ultimately, whether you think some or all reality shows are trash, they will never go away as long as an audience still exists for them, just like with any other show out there. I personally feel that if one has something I’m interested in, regardless if it’s competitive/live-changing/fun, I will make the effort to watch it. And if there’s one thing I pride myself on now, it’s that I’ve learned to move past shows that exist solely to aggravate me to no end.