Side one: Reality.
I’m not immune to it. I’ve been sucked into it. Reality TV. It’s been part of our television viewing experience for many years now. Documentaries and 60 Minute specials, interviews and behind-the-scenes with movie stars, athletes, presidents, heads of state, and musicians have always fascinated us. But years ago (who else feels old?) major networks made island life popular by setting up Gilligan’s Island meets Swiss Family Robinson situations for our viewing pleasure. And so began the infatuation with reality television. Whole cable stations are devoted to bringing us everyday Joe’s and Jane’s right to our living rooms so we can see how they live their real lives. We can participate and feel like we’re making a difference by “voting” off or on, in or out, our favorite tribes, people, groups, or stars.
Everyone has a reality show they can watch – there’s medical reality shows, travel shows, hoarding shows, extreme living shows, dating shows, fashion and beauty shows, home improvement shows, cooking and food shows, music and talent shows, teen life shows, health and fitness shows, Nickelodeon-inspired slime shows, family life shows, games shows, animal shows, cop shows, pawn store shows – you name it – it’s on.
Without leaving our homes we can glimpse into the lives of other people. We can understand the struggles they struggle. The joys they rejoice in. We can sympathize and empathize. Learn from their mistakes. Laugh along with them. And we see if life is greener on the other side of the fence. We can see how good we have it. Or how bad.
We are connected.
Side two: Life
That’s not real life. Often times these shows are scripted. Some shows are better than others. Some have more pure intentions than others. But some of the best people, with the purest of intentions, have been tainted and twisted by the fame of their reality. Their lives are no longer normal. They are now tabloid and E! news favorites. And reality ruined them. Because they couldn’t live their life.
If we really wanted to find out how other people live, shouldn’t we find ways to meet them? To study their culture? To research and read about their jobs? Why must we watch them 24/7 as they “live” out unnatural “real life” situations? Aren’t some things best left a mystery? Are we really a nation that needs to feel like we’re constantly influencing and having a “say” in things that we feel entitled to vote on every decision ever made? Life is not meant to be lived out on the screen. It is not a drama. No documentary or behind-the-scenes show can match real life. Why are we focusing on reality and not life? How much is our life suffering because of reality?
I ask. You answer.
- Who wins? Reality or Life?
- Do you watch reality TV shows? Why? How does it help you? How does it hurt you?
- Would you ever go on a reality TV show (American Idol, Project Runway, etc. etc. etc!) Or would you ever let TLC, Discovery, HGTV, FOOD, or any other network make a show about your life, family, friends, fashion, dating, etc?