After a long day of being busy humans, we like to unwind by getting dressed into track pants, indulging in our favourite snacks and tuning in to some form of entertainment, namely TV shows. It’s no surprise that a lot of us choose something that involves less concentration and is easy to follow – reality TV, of course! Whether we’re anticipating who will get the final rose, which contestant cooked the most delicious dish, or just waiting to see some scandalous drama unfold, there has to be a reason we keep coming back week after week for more. Surely it’s not a reflection of our character, right?
Let’s not lie to ourselves, sometimes the content we watch is so mind numbing that we often ask ourselves, why the hell are we so invested in staying up to date? Many of us feel slightly ashamed about watching trashy reality TV but for some reason we just can’t help ourselves. It’s a guilty pleasure we can’t control. To put things into perspective, a lot of us do our nine to five in a highly demanding job, are faced with the deadlines of handing in countless uni assignments, or are just dealing with the pressures of life in general. It’s no wonder we feel at ease when we choose to immerse ourselves in mindless garbage rather than watching something that requires a high level of concentration.
They may call it ‘reality TV’ but chances are some or most of the content is scripted. When we think about it, seeing two wife swaps on MAFS makes us start to question and analyse whether they actually happened or if producers gave them a bit of a nudge based on the attention received from the last season. Let’s not forget the conversation between Sam and Ines about cheese and olives, and the whole “cupcake code word”, like c’mon… who are the script writers? Cyclone Cyrell, on the other hand, we believe is absolutely authentic (at least she means well).
But then again, if there was no drama or scripted content so to speak, chances are we would become bored and stop watching. It’s only natural for humans to find entertainment in drama, as long as we’re not part of it ourselves. It doesn’t necessarily mean we thrive on drama, it just gives us something to talk about with other ‘trash’ viewers and the perfect opportunity to engage with relevant Twitter hashtags and memes. We get it, they need ratings and we need entertainment.
Then there’s some of us that don’t really feel ashamed at all for watching reality TV. We may not feel emotionally connected to the on-screen individuals or relate to them at all, but we’re just watching for a laugh. Another way to put it is, it’s so bad that it’s good. We can argue that maybe watching ‘trash’ makes us feel better about ourselves because we didn’t turn out like some of the contestants on the show, like a “thank goodness I’m not like that” mentality.
At the end of the day, what we watch doesn’t necessarily define who we are. We make moral judgements about TV shows and other products of the media, but ironically some of us keep on watching and that’s okay. People might label us “walking bags of trash” based on our viewing practices, but we shouldn’t completely dismiss a whole genre of TV that brings entertainment to many.