I’ve recently returned home from a much needed beach trip with a few of my friends from college. We’ve been doing an annual trip for the past several years, and this year, we kept the tradition alive despite being down a couple of families…party poopers!
While I’m not built for the beach (I’m impossibly pale and sweat at the mention of heat), I love being down there. Watching the ocean is relaxing, and walking on the boardwalk is a unique experience that blows our neighborhood walks out of the water. I was able to take a walk with my child and split a Fractured Prune donut in the morning before it became unbearably hot. We were able to mix up our routine while enjoying time with my friends and their kids at the pool, on the beach and at very kid friendly restaurants.
It was tough to come back. We walked through the door with not one, but two full bags of sand sprinkled laundry to wash. There were the floaties and beach toys to put away. I’m not sure where the sun hid our energy, but we still have yet to find it. However, there was a big silver lining to our return: being able to catch up on my reality tv shows.
I can hear my husband shaking his head as I’m typing this. “Why do you watch those shows?” he often asks. Usually, he asks as I’m in the middle of my program, so I pull myself away just enough to offer a distracted “Because.” Apparently, that is not enough to give resolution to his question, so this blog is for you, sweetie. 🙂
To provide a little bit of background for those of you who aren’t my husband, the two shows that I’m engrossed in this season are Big Brother and The Bacherlorette. I can totally understand where my husband’s line of questioning originates. These are not highbrow shows. The goal of Big Brother is for one of over a dozen people to win $500k by voting out the other house guests one at a time. In theory, The Bachelorette is intended to match a producer selected lady with her soulmate, although there is a better chance of each of the ~25 contestants either becoming the next Bachelor and/or being on one of their spin off programs. So you have to have the appreciation that not all contestants are pure of heart when you watch.
And yet why am I intent on watching these shows?
It’s a sociology haven.
Big Brother itself is a sociology experiment: put a bunch of people together in a house and encourage them to turn on each other for their own gain. It’s fascinating to see which people become friends and how people strategize. I dislike seeing people feel alienated and depressed, admittedly, even though it’s a clear risk of the game.
The Bachelorette is framed as a platform to nurture love, although the interactions between the bachelorette and her “boyfriends,” as well as the relationships amongst the “boyfriends,” are unlike anything you would…or should, I suppose, see in everyday life. One lady is dating over twenty guys at one point, making out with many of them. It hurts my heart to think how this could lead to a legitimate relationship, so I try to tune out that detail. How the guys get along with each other is even more interesting to me. They’re all (presumably seriously) dating the same woman, living in the same house, and often times even sharing a date with some of the other guys. I’m not sure if I’m more intrigued by the guys who go after each other or by the ones who take the circumstances in stride.
The shows are not dissimilar to sporting competitions.
At the end of the series, there is a person who wins. They either walk away with half a mill or else end up engaged to the lady on the pedestal. It becomes clearer with each episode who that winner might be, and I find myself getting antsy, wanting to know what will happen next.
I feel like I get to know the “competitors.”
As with sitcoms, one aspect that gets me vested into a program is the believability of the characters. For instance, one show my hubby and I watch together is Blue Bloods. It took us a little while to get into it, but when we arrived, we were there for the long haul. I found myself stressed out about a fight that one of the main couples were having because it seemed like that could happen to any couple. After decades together, they realized they weren’t making their romance a priority, which made me sadder than I maybe should’ve been. In reality tv, the “characters” are people who put themselves out there. Who you see on the screen is at least close to who they are in the real world. It’s much easier for me to root for or against a “player” based on what you know about them, because you see more of their personality during the “game.”
I play a side game of who is not on there for the right reasons.
As I mentioned, people who go on The Bachelorette are not always there for the producer-intended reasons. Maybe they want to be the next dude on the pedestal. Perhaps they’re keen to promote their business. It becomes painfully clear when they leave what those intentions were. Either they couldn’t care less, or else they give a cringe worthy performance of how their heart is open and they just want to find someone special.
It’s a break.
We all (???) have our guilty pleasures. Watching crappy television shows is one of mine. I won’t talk about it everywhere I go with everyone I see, but I also don’t plan to stop. I refuse to watch these shows in front of my impressionable child. Instead, I wait for nap time and sneak in a bit of an episode here and there. I no longer torture my husband with these shows because I value our marriage & don’t want use to end up in a rough patch, similar to what the couple on Blue Bloods went through. However, sweetie, in the event you ask me again about my reasons for enjoying reality tv, I will be tempted to send you this link. 🙂