Love it or hate it: Reality TV

by Caitlin Cannon

Love it

It’s not that I looove reality TV. It’s that I hate to love it, for providing so many otherwise out-of-work actors with jobs, for starters. And nothing delights me more than when one of them accuses the other of going on a show like “The Bachelor” for the “wrong reasons.” What could be more honorable than going on a televised dating show to accrue overnight fame, whilst taking a helicopter ride with a sexy stranger to a remote hot tub somewhere on ABC’s dime? Perhaps you reveal a dark past and secure a book deal or your own talk show down the line.

There’s much more integrity in that objective than there would be in broadcasting surprise at your own ability to develop true intimacy with a stranger. This over a six-week period, mind you, in which he narrows down potential brides through the trial and error of various make-out sessions with nary a camera present.

I mean, I suppose one could fall in love with 1 out of 25 perfect asses in less time than that, but really I’m just grateful the opportunity exists to watch these “average” people try to make something more of their lives, when I’m too lazy to get up off the couch and do so myself. I so hate to love that.

And I’ve also found RTV to be the most reliable news source. OMG. Like the other night on “The Real Housewives” when Hillary grabbed Donald by the weave and wrestled him to the ground. Oh, wait. That was Fox News. Never mind.

Caitlin Cannon Hate it

I will save the argument that we all figured out five minutes into the first reality TV show that ever aired, that these shows are just about the opposite of how most of us would define “reality,” so sliced and diced, the drama so manufactured, the editing so manipulative, the stars so hand-picked, so often caricatures and stereotypes, promoting values that are the worst this country has to offer: conspicuous and grotesque consumption, greed, shallowness, wealth-worship, celebrity-worship, infidelity, incompatibility, combative competitiveness and so on.

I mean, I get it from a guilty-pleasure standpoint, that we have that one trashy reality show that we hate to love, that we know is a time suck, but it’s nice to dial our intelligence down for an hour so we can watch human “misery,” “joy,” “drama,” “triumphs” and “failures.”

Let’s not forget the real reason why these shows exist in the first place: Because they’re cheap to produce compared with a scripted series with real actors (who are playing characters in earnest, as opposed to reality stars, who are often playing the contrived role of “reality star”). It doesn’t hurt that millions lap up these shows like bacon gravy, prompting more reality shows that get perpetually more outrageous and scandalous, prompting a vicious cycle of dog waste.

David Holub


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