May 26, 2020

The blessing and bane of my existence?

McClatchy Tribune

Unfortunately, I love reality TV.

In between the research projects, album reviews, PowerPoint presentations and massive cramming for exams, I resort to the embarrassing comfort of the beast that is reality television.

It’s mindless entertainment, I know. And most of the time the “stars” of said shows are out for a cheap and easy rise to the top of American celebrity, but that doesn’t make them less hysterical or diverting.

As college students our lives are pretty much jam-packed. Many of us are taking on more hours at work or even more jobs as school fees increase and graduation dates extend further into the future. After tiring days of taking orders from professors, bosses and parents sometimes senseless distraction, I think, is the perfect prescription.

The supposedly crucial aspect of reality TV is my favorite part. Basically, everything seems like a big damn deal on these shows. I absolutely love “Project Runway” and to a lesser extent it’s extremely derivative counterpart “The Fashion Show,” but does designing and sewing a miniskirt require that much bitchiness and tears? Probably not, but that’s what makes it so entertaining and such an escape. For 30 minutes to an hour the audience gets to retreat to a place where colors and patterns of fabric are the only things that matter.

Reality TV adoration is not for the weak at heart, however. The scoffs I received as I divulged to my co-workers I watch Bravo’s “Millionaire Matchmaker” were hard to take. And every time I turned on “Rock of Love” or “Rock of Love 2” or even “Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels,” a series that follows the dating escapades of the lead singer of 1980s rock band Poison, I feared my IQ would drop 20 points.

Last summer’s “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here” on NBC, which transported 13 quasi celebrities into a Costa Rican jungle for charity was the most hazardous of all my reality show afflictions and almost cost me my future college education. I found self-proclaimed world’s first supermodel Janice Dickinson’s blatant lies about stealing food and peeing in the camp (when those actions were caught on camera) hilarious. My mom, however, did not and threatened to cease and desist paying my college fees if I watched the show ever again. From then on I had to hide my addiction.

Not everyone empathizes with the inclination towards reality TV and understandably so. Often there are no plots, no morals and very little authenticity in many of today’s shows, but there is peace of mind in the fact that I am not alone in my love of reality show category. As noted in a New York Times article from May 2009 by Edward Wyatt, the talent show hit “American Idol” is the highest-rated show on television.

The loudest complaint of the genre is that most shows are scripted and, therefore, are not a reflection of everyday reality, which I completely agree with. But when grown adults pretend their six-year-old son was swept away in a metallic, UFO-shaped balloon or two airplane pilots overshoot their destination by 150 miles because they were on their laptops, I have to wonder if the world isn’t a reality show and we just live in it.

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