Why We Love to Hate “Reality” TV

1 Jul

I wrote this in December, but I feel that it is totally necessary to re-post. 

As new seasons of our favorite TV shows approach us, I know some of us (if not most of us) are patiently waiting the new episodes of our favorite guilty pleasures. I must admit, I do not watch too much TV but when I do I am indeed guilty of watching reality TV. Now more than ever, reality TV is becoming more and more popular. The question is…why? I like to think of like this: the reason we watch shows like the “Jerseylicious”, and “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” is the same reason we eat cake. We know it is bad for us, but at the same time it is so good. But here are a couple of other reasons why we might be addicted to these terrible, possibly brain-cell damaging TV shows:

  • IT IS INTERACTIVE- Shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance have become super popular over the past decade, and the reason is not necessarily because people care about how much talent some of the people on the show may have, but because they can choose who they want to stay on the show. Let’s face it, Americans like being a part of something, especially when it is broadcasted on national television. If we were not able to vote for our future idol, do you really think the show would be as popular?
  • WE CAN RELATE- The majority of the problems on reality TV shows have to do with someone cheating on their boyfriends, being cheated on with their best friend, and getting knocked up by their boyfriend’s family member. Why do we like watching this? Because unfortunately, it happens to us. Sometimes, it is easier to handle a situation when you witness someone else going through the same thing. When you know you are not alone, it can make coping and solving the issue at hand a lot less difficult. You don’t have to handle your problems the same way the Kardashians do but in a strange sort of way, it may broaden your options.
  • NO ACTORS, JUST REAL PEOPLE- Another thing about us Americans is that we are obsessed with fame. I can bet that at one point in your life at least 85% of you reading this right now, wanted to be famous. This is what makes watching reality TV so much fun. People who star on these shows are REAL people. During the last season of American Idol, I spotted two very familiar faces of girls that went to my high school and they both made it to the top 24. Do you know how cool it is to say you know someone that is on TV?! Real people becoming celebrities overnight gives everyone a little hope AND it gives you something to bring up at the next social event you go to.
  • SCHADENFREUDE-There’s an SAT word for you. It means that we get pleasure and reassurance from other people’s failure. How many times have you sat through your favorite show and said to yourself “Well, at least I’m not THAT girl.” Yeah, probably more times than you’d like admit. The sick truth is that everyone has done it at least once. We like watching other people mess up their lives. We like watching other people cry and fight, and we find it funny. Why? Because it makes us feel better about our own lives. Watching Snooki and J-Wow fight with everyone for no reason might be a good stress reliever for some people.

I would like to say that I am in no way trying to promote watching reality TV. BUT, I do acknowledge the fact that it is getting harder and harder to ignore it. So instead of going on a rant about how pointless these shows are, I am going to say that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.


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