Opinions Editor Tim Doty explores the wonders that is game shows.
Hands off my remote
Everyone knows Reality TV is vapid and staged, yet for some reason, we still love to watch it
By Amanda Keefe
On a weekly basis, my boyfriend and I flip through channels, looking for something decent to watch. At some point, I’ll stealthily take the remote and end up on one of several trashy reality shows that are on at any time.
At this, he groans, but I get excited. I can’t wait to tune in to this week’s catfight or cheating scandal.
Yes, I like reality shows. I can’t get enough of Snooki and her slippers, unpopular celebrities in rehab, or Tyra mocking her models. Why? Maybe it’s because I enjoy watching the worst kind of people make complete asses of themselves on national television.
Maybe it’s laughing at their expense. Hell, sometimes I can relate on some level to the tribulations (trivial or not) that reality stars face. Whatever it is, they’re my guilty pleasure.
I know, I know. How could I watch such mindless, morally inept nonsense? Because it is mindless and it’s ridiculously entertaining. I know reality shows don’t promote good morals or values, and I’m sure jobless, 20-something dropouts are the vast majority of people who are watching.
But after seven hours of class or 10 hours at work, I need something with a numbing effect; something I don’t have to put effort into. The stigma of reality shows is not a good one, but so what – they’re good fun and light-hearted. I sincerely believe no reality show is created with bad intentions. They’re made for viewing pleasure, for fun.
No fruitful, legitimate thought process goes through a viewer’s head while watching a reality show — not in my head, anyway. You don’t have to know these people personally, and you don’t have to act like you care. Especially when the cast members are entirely one-dimensional and selfish (need examples? Watch “You’re Cut Off” on VH1 Monday nights), or downright stupid (“Jersey Shore,” on MTV Thursday nights). Name any reality show and think of its cast. Tell me, would you bring any of them home to meet your mother?
So maybe you wouldn’t bring The Situation home to meet the folks — you don’t have to. You can just watch and enjoy his sophomoric ways at a safe distance. Critics or concerned parents would argue that reality shows are molding and shaping young American minds to do and say all the wrong things — I’m not arguing with this. In fact, I agree, to an extent.
But to watch it for pure entertainment knowing that you’re not supposed to gain any sort of worthwhile value is harmless. Just because we may be addicted to people marrying for money or ‘stars’ dancing competitively, that doesn’t mean we reality TV junkies don’t know fact from fiction.
Yes, countless reality shows have been debunked and exposed as being staged, but that’s what makes shows like “The Real World” or “Survivor” so damn exciting. Sometimes you just gotta’ make stuff up for entertainment value. Who’s it hurting?
Viewers need to recognize that reality shows should never be taken seriously (unless it’s anything involving Dr. Drew). The creators of reality shows aren’t looking to be serious — they’re not trying to send any substantial message to their viewers. No, they’re simply giving America what a lot of us often need to get through a hectic, draining work week — mindless, stupid entertainment. Something you don’t have to think about. Something you don’t have to invest yourself in. Something I shamelessly admit to watching.
So go ahead, reality TV junkies of America, snap on “Teen Mom” and indulge your dirty desire to watch 16-year-olds fail to raise their kid. If that doesn’t do it for you, flip it over to the 76th season of “The Bachelor” and watch 30-something women throw themselves at one happy man. It’s mindless. It’s brilliant.
It’s reality TV, baby.