Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Reality

Here's my dirty little secret:  I love reality shows.  And I'm going to announce that proudly, without a hint of the shame and embarrassment that I occasionally feel from enjoying something so worldly, so lowbrow, so unimportant as watching regular people do things that I may or may not ever be able to do myself.  It's almost as bad, although maybe not quite, as the stigma around liking McDonald's.  Sheesh, after Supersize Me came out I felt like I needed to put my quarter pounder with cheese in a Whole Foods Market bag so no one would know that I don't mind eating processed foods.  

There are a few things I like about reality shows.  It's nice to see a different reality than the one that I'm currently in.  Not that I don't like my life;  I do, mostly, but there's not nearly as much adventure and excitement as in your standard reality show.  When's the last time I was required to bungee jump off a bridge, for example, or rappel down the side of a building?  Never, that's when!  Not that I particularly want to do those things, but my point is that my life doesn't require a lot of adrenaline for me.

I love watching people using their talents in an extreme way.  I've watched American Idol, but my favorite talent reality show is So You Think You Can Dance, mostly because I've always wanted to be able to dance.  These are some gifted people, and I love watching them use their talents.  I'm not so crazy about them being scorned by judges for not doing well enough, but at least on SYTYCD they aren't quite as brutal as Simon can be.  

I think by far my favorite part of reality shows is the competition factor.  I love contests of skill and could probably get emotionally involved in a snail race if there was money for the winner.  There is something about seeing people's true colors come out when the pressure's on that is really telling about their personality.  Nowhere is that more apparent than on my favorite reality show, The Amazing Race.  These are the ultimate regular people - they don't need to have an iron will (and stomach) like the Fear Factor contestants, or ruthless ambition and a need to dominate like Survivorites.  Amazing Racers are just people who think it would be fun to do crazy challenges while they travel around the world.  The excitement on their faces when they find out where they are going next is the closest to kinship that I'll ever feel with a reality show contestant.

But it's the other behavior of those contestants that keeps me from being on that show.  When the chips are down, some of those people get ugly with a capital ug.  I've told Ryan that there's no way I'd subject my marriage to that kind of laboratory experiment - some couples end up completely falling apart and while I'd like to think that we'd be mature enough to handle the stresses of the game, I would never take the chance of putting our worst arguments on national television.  

Here is a list of reality shows that I've enjoyed:

The Biggest Loser
The Amazing Race
Project Runway
Iron Chef
Top Chef
The Next Food Network Star
The Next Iron Chef (can you tell, I really like cooking reality shows?)
So You Think You Can Dance
The Apprentice, in the early seasons

Most of these shows is pure fluff, nothing but entertainment, but every so often I learn something.  Like the other day I was at the gym and struggling to run longer than I have before.  I could hear Jillian (from the Biggest Loser) screaming at me to keep going, and while in person I would have hated being yelled at, being yelled at by a voice in my head was somehow motivating, and I ran for a whole mile.  (I know, that's nothing to get excited about, but I don't know that I've ever run a mile before.)  And the cooking shows motivate me to try new techniques in the kitchen, and learn how to chop onions faster. 

So, judge me if you will, America, for my love of reality shows.  But if you're going to judge me, make sure you call and place your vote for me, Emily, as The Next Big Reality Show Lover!  


Drake Steel said...


As the person who got me turned on to reality shows in the first place... thanks for telling your side of the story!

Dennis Miller explained it one time on his show that these shows do something interesting and perhaps they only do it by accident. Kind of show what people act like when they are stressed. Normal scripted shows are acts, these reality shows are really not reality (who after all gets a credit card to go visiting other countries like the Amazing Race after all) but the exaustion of traveling is nowhere in the world as well documented as it is on the Amazing Race. Don't even get me started on Survivor.

My fav? Beauty and the Geek. When in season 2 (the first season I watched) this very attractive (I wouldn't call most of them beauties but that's just me, because all the beauty is on the inside...) young woman said how horrified she was at the thought of being in a bathing suit in front of others. Talk about insecurities! Where else on TV has anyone ever said that?

And apparently they are cheap to produce.

SaraH G said...

While pregnancy might have made me say Ewww! to any fast food i even SAW a billboard for... that's fading back to a hankering for the 1/4-pounder or chicken nuggets. Sure i learned from Supersize me... but it's like dessert - every once in a while, it makes life so good!
I've never really watched entire seasons of shows - just turned one on here and there. But yeah i love the reality shows, so long as it's not all about the UG-ly side. Showing the excitement, tiredness, teamwork, surprise, uncoordination, lack of motivation and restoration of it, etc. THAT's good stuff.
Just like we like gabbing with friends about their every-day lives - it's something different than ours, but no scripted fairtale either - it's nice to see other people's realities.