Reality TV Shows: Why I Hate to Love Them

In response to The Daily Post’s Hate to Love prompt.

One of my guilty pleasures is reality TV.

I know, I know. It’s trash TV that does nothing to enrich you as a person…but it’s one of those things I hate to love. The heart is a fickle thing. You can’t help what and who you’re drawn to… but you follow it anyway.

It all started with Fear Factor. I liked the competitive game, the fear it evoked in people and the crazy feats they’d ask them to do. These were things I’d never imagine doing myself like eating bugs or sitting in a box full of snakes. I think I liked living vicariously through these brave people.

This continued with other shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and America’s Next Top Model. Like Fear Factor, these also had a competitive aspect to them–people were competing for a prize, whether that was a money reward, a love interest or an occupational title.

They were also full of drama and life like The Hills or The City. Every week, there would be some breakup or some falling out between people, taking the audience through twists and turns, making us speculate and wonder what would happen next.

I’ve watched too many reality TV shows to count. I think the reason why boils down to the fact that I love people-watching. Relationship dynamics are interesting to watch, whether they’re between a couple, between siblings, between friends or even between co-workers.

This is how I try to justify my guilty pleasure of watching reality TV shows, especially as a writer. Stephen King in his book On Writing says that it doesn’t hurt writers to distance themselves from TV because we need to look within for imagination and creativity. Instead, he says that we should be reading as much as we can.

I’ve recently gotten back into reading and I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve realized how much I missed reading a good book. But…at the same time, I’ve also gotten back into watching TV dramas, some of which are pretty amazing nowadays (hint, hint: Penny Dreadful, Vikings, Game of Thrones, Master of None, etc.). I’ve heard a lot of people say we’re going through a Renaissance period in TV, where television is at its best at the moment and I have to agree. Despite this, I still can’t really justify my need to watch shows like Christian Millian’s Turned Up. My sister isn’t letting me live that one down…

At the end of the day though, I like stories, whether they come in books or on TV.

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4 thoughts on “Reality TV Shows: Why I Hate to Love Them

  1. slaughterj says:

    I feel exactly the same way, last night an ad for some crap reality show came on and my husband said “I assume you’ll be tuning in” and I couldn’t decide if I was more embarrassed that the answer was yes or that he knew me so well.

  2. Susanna J. Sturgis says:

    Confession: I’ve never watched a reality TV show. When I say I don’t have a TV, people ooh and aah and say “How wonderful!” as if I’d just run a marathon or something. (I’m here to tell you, I will buy a TV long before I run in a race of any length.) However, a friend recently turned me on to some wicked good TV shows, mostly British, one Danish, most of them crime dramas. I’ve been watching them on my laptop, via DVDs borrowed from the library and Netflix. I’m hooked on the lot of them. The writing and the acting are superb across the board. They’re probably giving me useful lessons in plotting and character development, but even if they aren’t — they’re great and I’m going to keep watching them. Maybe I’ll try a reality show one of these days. 🙂

    • creativewriter says:

      Haha 🙂 I know the feeling–I barely watch live TV. I watch all of my shows either on demand, online or on Netflix now. It kind of makes you wonder if having a TV is really necessary. I love British crime dramas too, especially Luther. There’s also a pretty good Swedish-Danish one called The Bridge. I find they’re so different from North American crime shows and extremely well-written. Once you start watching reality TV, it can be hard to stop but it’s interesting to watch people in that setting 🙂

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