Reality TV-- it’s commonly thought of as a “guilty pleasure.” Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Love Island, Marriage or Mortgage, Love is Blind, RuPaul’s Drag Race, are all supposed to be embarrassing to admit that you watch. For me, though, reality TV is an escape from reality itself.
Recently, Marriage or Mortgage on Netflix has been the way I unwind at night before I go to bed. In Nashville, a realtor and a wedding planner compete for a couple’s business with a budget to be used for a wedding or a down payment on a house. This reality TV show is one of the less raunchy ones--it’s less frowned upon, essentially. But that doesn’t mean that reality dating shows or celebrity reality shows should be the embarrassing “guilty pleasure” that they are.
Oftentimes, the people featured on reality shows are enormously privileged. Take the Kardashian's, for example. The Kardashian's are so privileged that they were able to go away on vacation multiple times with friends during a pandemic. Kendall Jenner filmed a commercial for Pepsi that depicted her solving the issue of police brutality by handing a police officer a can of the drink. Still, their show on E! receives high ratings, and on social media, the Kardashian's are some of the most followed people in the world. The Kardashian's, like many other celebrities who have their own reality shows, are watched so much, not necessarily because they are well-liked, but because they are interesting. Watching celebrities live their lives gives us normal people a break from ours for an hour or so. It’s fun--it gives us a break from thinking about school, money, resumes, jobs -- the things that we deal with on a daily basis that we just wish we didn’t have to deal with. In a way, reality TV allows us to live vicariously through someone else for a little bit.
The same goes for other reality TV shows, like dating shows such as Love Island, Love is Blind, Too Hot to Handle, and notoriously, The Bachelor. For some reason, these shows are enthralling-- you just can’t look away. Like celebrity reality shows, these dating shows give us a break from reality-- frankly, we can make fun of the contestants, place our bets on who ends up with who, and just take a break from thinking about the big things in our lives. With regular TV shows, dramas can become too heavy, and sometimes, even sitcoms are too much to think about.
I always say that reality TV lets me turn my brain off for a little bit--and that’s not such a bad thing. Especially during the pandemic, many of us have merely become creatures of productivity. Reality TV lets me take a break from all the difficult, monotonous things going on. It may be my “guilty pleasure,” but at the end of the day, it gives me some relief-- I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about that, and neither should you.