Reality TV isn’t Real

One of my guilty pleasures is zoning out in front of the computer watching Teen Mom. The show is a great source of amusement to me, mainly because of all the “drama” the “characters” face in their daily lives.

But as I watched all the way through the third season, the “reality” of the show began to fade for me. Even though the teen mothers (and their significant others) continually complain about how they have no money to pay for this, that, and the other, they always have their hair and nails done. They wear name-brand clothing and live in big apartments that teen parents would not realistically be able to afford. They have top-of-the-line cell phones and electronic gadgets.

I understand that MTV is paying these teens to have their lives captured and broadcast to the nation, but the show just isn’t realistic anymore (if it ever was to begin with). I worry that the show is teaching teen girls that all they have to do to make money is get pregnant at a young age, then sign up to be on the cast of Teen Mom. It’s true that some of the issues the girls on the show face (parents in and out of jail, relationship problems, taking care of a sick child) may very well be realistic, but even so… I don’t think the show accurately portrays how truly difficult it is to be a teen parent, especially in this economy.

Another reality show premiered on TLC this past Sunday. Entitled The Virgin Diaries, it’s about men and women in their 20s and 30s who have not yet had sex for varying reasons. The big question about the show is whether it celebrates or mocks virginity.

Now, I have not actually watched The Virgin Diaries, and I don’t think I will. But I think virginity is a personal matter and should not be broadcast on national television. I’m not sure if the show is supposed to make those who are virgins feel confident or guilty about their virginity. All I know is that it’s a total reversal of perhaps 200 years ago, when virginity was a positive thing. With shows like The Virgin Diaries and movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, it now seems like virginity is some kind of curse.

Nowadays, it seems that the common stereotype is that the only people who are still virgins in their 20s and 30s are religious fanatics and those who are too unattractive to find partners. I think that’s just sad – because a lot of the time, that’s not true.

So… what do you think of reality TV? Are there any reality shows you watch?

15 thoughts on “Reality TV isn’t Real

  1. I do watch the Kardashians but I’m not sure we get the two shows you mentioned and I don;t think I’d watch them for the same reasons you’re not too keen. I’m not convinced any of these shows are truely real so I guess we just have fun with them.

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  2. There are a few Reality TV shows I have watched over the years, like Laguna Beach, The Hills, Housewives of Orange County and New York. But over all I find them amusing and as you stated they seem to be a constant reminder of how people DON’T act. And the ongoing theme is people with privilege demonstrating that they have very little understanding of life, compassion or common sense.

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  3. I hate and despise reality TV shows. I don’t understand the concept of watching someone else live their life when I have my own to live. All you’re doing is making them richer and allowing them to feel like their lives are more important than yours.

    Watching some else’s “drama” allows you not to focus on yours, so while they get endorsement deals and other opportunities because they’re on TV, at the end of the day, they are advancing, in a way, while you’re stuck with the same problems you’re trying not to deal with.

    I think we have enough real drama in our own lives without watching some else’s manufactured drama. It I want entertaining drama, I’ll watch a REAL TV SHOW: sitcom, or crime drama, etc, or watch a movie.

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    1. That’s the reason I watch reality TV – to be amused by drama (real or manufactured) that isn’t mine. And it gives me some good story ideas sometimes.

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  4. I do NOT watch Reality TV . . .

    Anytime you point a camera at someone, the reality of their life changes. Sometimes for the better . . . but more often then not they just become drama queens.

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    1. Exactly. That’s why “reality” TV can’t possibly be real, because the instant the camera is watching, you become a different person, whether you consciously realize it or not.

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  5. I did watch Big Brother but now I don’t. As for the virginity thing, it’s one thing them being portrayed in a bad way but it’s another thing them even going on the show. It just shows that some people will use their virginity for money. Basically, if they don’t want to look bad then why go on the show?

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  6. I watched one episode of Hoarders, but it was too sad. I didn’t like that the network was profiting from these peoples’ mental illness. Also watched one episode of Ghost Hunters, but it scared the pants off of me, so never again.

    We don’t watch much television in our house, and haven’t ever found a reality show we like. They just seem too uncomfortable to watch.

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    1. I can’t watch Hoarders without feeling physically ill. It really makes me sad for those people because they’re being stared at like they’re in some kind of freak show.

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  7. Speaking of Hoarders, whenever I see the show, my husband and I end up cleaning something afterwards to feel better!

    I never watched much TV before I had my son but since he’s been born, I started watching reality shows when I needed a distraction. Now I can’t watch watch Teen Mom till he goes to sleep because the swearing is unbelievable and he’s old enough to catch on to the bad language!

    Teen Mom could have an effect on teen pregnancy either way, depending on how parents interact with their children on the issue. I can only hope that parents will use it as a device to talk more openly with their children.

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    1. It is terrible that the teen mothers talk like that around their children. Makes me wonder if they’re going to grow up using the same language… sad.

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    1. Excellent comment – very true. People are their true selves when they’re not being watched… or when they don’t think they’re being watched.

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