Why Reality TV is Dumb (And We All Watch it Anyway)

{By Ellery Sadler}

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Is there anything quite as ridiculous as the things that modern-day Western culture finds entertaining?

We honestly think watching a couple fight is funny? Or seeing a family falling apart at the seams is amusing? Or watching social ‘freaks’ is cool? Or watching backwoodsmen with beards is interesting? Apparently so …

Reality TV is one of the dumbest things on the planet based on the very fact that it is not reality. Are any of your friends’ family lives like the ones we watch on ‘reality’ TV shows? (If the answer is yes, you have my deepest sympathy. I’m sorry you have such strange friends.) These shows claim to show us reality, but quite honestly they don’t, except for maybe in the case of Sarah Palin or Jon & Kate Plus 8 … those seemed bad enough to be real.

The only reality that these shows show us is one that some producer thought would get people to watch it. Reality? I don’t think so. And everyone knows it isn’t.

So why do we all watch it? 

There are several reasons why we watch Reality TV. One of them being that the people who make them know their business, and they can be quite entertaining.

And we live in an escapist culture. Lots of people want to escape their lives, and choose to watch TV or go to the movies or play video games as a way to ‘get away from it all.’ Reality TV shows are just another way to escape. They make us feel better too, because we get to watch the awful lives of other people, then push a button to turn it off and now our lives seem a little better. At least we aren’t like them, we say. Of course we ignore the fact that by sitting in front of the TV when we could be interacting with real live people, we are slipping away from the most important thing in our life: relationships (but that’s a topic for a whole different post). So these ‘reality’ TV shows can be an escape.

But if you are not necessarily looking for some deep meaning/psychological reason behind why we watch these shows, the other reason is they are catered to their audience and therefore actually quite interesting. Whether its wedding dresses, six-year-old pageant brats, rednecks making illegal whisky (though if they are being filmed doesn’t that kind of ruin the secret …?) or people throwing cake in their new spouse’s face, I mean, to be honest, it can be pretty entertaining. Though watching rednecks drinking or six-year-old’s acting like teenagers (or anyone acting like teenagers actually) is not really my thing, there are some shows that can be fun to watch.

In truth, we really shouldn’t spend so much time watching reality TV shows or following  the lives duck-call makers, and should learn to live in the present. Right here. Right now. With the real people around you. That is reality. And it is so much better than any TV show.

Let’s just agree ‘Reality’ TV is dumb … and we all watch it anyway.

At least a little bit.