Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reality Bites

I have never been one to plan my life around TV Guide. Sure, I had certain shows that I HAD to see... ("Dawson's Creek" was a real weak spot in high school. I'm not proud of that.) ...but it was maybe one hour a week. Or with "Friends", just a 1/2 hour sitcom. Everything started changing in the turn of the century, when, according to the reputable and reliable source of Wikipedia, reality television took the world by storm.

Shows like "Survivor" and "Big Brother" never made it onto my planner. I even missed the first several seasons of "American Idol". Evidently, back then, I had better things to do than watch people eat bugs, fight, and sing off-key trying to win over America while being berated by a Brit. Seasons 5, 6, and 7 of "Idol" had me hooked... but only after the audition process was over. (Watching audition episodes makes me worry about the future of our country.) I've also lost entire days to marathons of such gems as "MTV Road Rules" and "America's Next Top Model" (because even if I'm not pretty, the show at least affirms that models are idiots). I spent a year in the desert with no cable and I ought to have been cured.

The issue now isn't arranging my schedule... the advent of TV on the internet has solved that. Now I can watch "Idol" on TV and mute the commercials to catch up on episodes of "The Bachelor" and "The Biggest Loser" that I missed earlier in the week. Why is it so fascinating to see people get thin? Why am I holding my breath when they step on the scale and crying right along with them in their canned interviews? I even have a weekly lunch 'meeting' to discuss the latest drama on "The Bachelor" with a group of my students! It's definitely a guilty pleasure, and one I'd be horrified to have my faculty colleagues discover. The absolute only reality show that I am proud to watch is "So You Think You Can Dance." Those kids and choreographers are incredible, and deserve the platform to be discovered. (The same could be said for contestants on "Idol", and it's more bearable now that the judges aren't either constantly drunk or acrimonious and bitter. It's unfortunate they kept the one who speaks solely in Ebonics.)

What's the draw? It must be the drama. I evidently don't have enough in my own life. Sometimes it makes me feel better about myself to see how delusional the majority of America is, or sometimes it is simply like a train wreck. I want to turn away, but something holds me there. Reality bites, but I don't have the willpower to withstand it. Save me a seat on the couch!

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