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Let’s Get Real…

March 2, 2010

Before I delve into today’s thought, let me present you with the following fact. Reader beware, this fact is startling and not for the faint of heart. I myself will struggle to type it out.

“During the 49 days “Jersey Shore” aired, 24 million viewers tuned into MTV for the hit reality TV show. Also, during those 49 days there were close to one million deaths caused by smoking and alcohol, nearly one million kids under the age of 5 died and more than two million acres of forest were lost.”

The reason I bring up the topic of reality TV, a topic loved by many, perhaps hated by most, is because last night I tuned in to watch the much-anticipated finale of The Bachelor. Mind you, I was just one of 14 million viewers. 14 million! In fact, according to Nielsen ratings, last night The Bachelor completed its most-watched season since 2003 (and in my opinion, it wasn’t even that good of a season).

Don’t get me wrong, I watched every episode. Planned my schedule around them. I know we live in a world of DVR but let’s be honest. News breaks so quickly nowadays that you have no choice but to watch a show the night it airs. Otherwise, before you’ve even stepped out of bed the next day you already know what happened. Check your phone, the news is there, turn on the TV and Matt Lauer is talking about it, open up a newspaper, if people are still doing that, and it’s there. You cannot escape it.

Last night however, after the show was done, I forced myself to take a step back and think about why I devote so much time watching reality TV. The reason behind my contemplation is this: if someone had videotaped my friends and I watching The Bachelor last night, you would have thought we were completely unhinged. We were hiding behind pillows, pacing the room, yelling (no screaming) at the TV. I ignored several calls from my own family. All over a TV show and people we will never meet but feel extremely invested in.

Why? Why do we do this? Why get so attached to a show that claims to be real when, for the most part, it undoubtedly isn’t? There are a variety of reasons. Perhaps, a need to poke fun at others to make yourself feel better, a need to be inspired by others (think Biggest Loser), or maybe it’s being privy to a life that you otherwise would not have been privy to. But at the root of it all, I believe it is the need within us all to escape.

It is no wonder that reality TV started in 1992 with MTV’s “The Real World.” People needed an outlet to escape. Hurricane “Andrew” became the most costly hurricane in US history with $20 billion worth of damage, riots broke out in Los Angeles after police were acquitted in the Rodney King case, Mike Tyson went on trial after being charged with raping a 1991 Miss Black America Contest contestant and, the worst of them all, the Washington Redskins won Superbowl XXVI (I am an Eagles fan).

Love or hate reality TV, at the end of the day, it is all about finding a medium that allows you  to escape and forget your problems or worries from the day.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gabi permalink
    March 3, 2010 7:37 am

    Reality TV is also about some unknown ‘celeb’ trying to become famous for something, take Celebrity Big Brother for example. Most of the viewers didn’t even know who the majority of the contestants were. But we still watch and quite enjoy it. Next thing, the contestants are all over Heat Magazine – I bet they make money off selling their stories and then they write an autobiography.

  2. March 4, 2010 3:10 pm

    Fabulous post! In addition to this we must remember that people are just plain nosey! Including myself, people like to just see how others are living. We honestly just want a jolt of excitement in our own lives without risking any of the consequences. It’s just easier that way sometimes.

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