Why people secretly like Reality TV

Or at least why I enjoy reality TV

Today while reading news.com.au I came across an article by Chris Paine, a journo with a column on the Punch. He had written a post about Trashy Reality TV becoming his life. It was interesting to see a man’s perspective on reality TV, especially someone who was into macho football and drinking with the boys at the pub.

I used to enjoy watching the news. I loved it. I also loved NCIS, CSI, Law and Order, Lie to Me and House. I loved shows that make you think. When I had a day of dealing with idiots while working at a restaurant or in retail, I craved some intelligent viewing. I wanted to see what was going on in the real world. After going public I lost interest in Law & Order. Seeing Benson and Stabler nicely wrap up a case in an hour was irritating. The cast changed so many times on CSI, I didn’t like it anymore. House got to the point where we knew if it was 8:45, he was about to have his epiphany. Lie to Me got cancelled.

Now I have a job where we literally have a wall of television screens that are tuned in to every news channel and I’m constantly bombarded with the news, which is recycled every few minutes on each network, I like to watch something else. My job involves reading intelligence reports all day, scouring news sites and writing weekly reports. I work in a Law Enforcement Intelligence Center. I wear a military uniform. So now when I watch anything military or LE related, I am irritated with all the Hollywood bullshit that has no realism. Guys who don’t wear their uniform correctly, or leave their cover on inside. Cops who do stupid shit. Make believe scenarios like on NCIS LA where they have totally unbelievable technology that helps them catch the bad guy in 10 minutes.I also see a lot of dead people in my reports. Not gentle dead people. Violently killed dead people. Or usually, bits of dead people….It’s not pretty and I see it so much at work I no longer want to see it on TV. When I first got here and went to see a movie with one of the FBI analysts, I didn’t get the no-violence in movies preference. Now I totally get it. You can only watch so many execution videos before a movie like SAW or Hostel just isn’t appealing anymore. I can understand why lawyers hate law shows, and why medical people hate doctor shows.

So these days, when I need to switch off, I like to turn on E! Suddenly, Keeping Up With The Kardashians seems like fun. I love Tosh.O and Chelsea Lately. Fashion Police and who was wearing what to which awards ceremony is fun. At night at work, we turn on stupid TV. One of the guys has so many movies on his laptop and we plug it in and watch it. Today, before heading to work I was watching Mean Girls. I got to work and turned it on. None of the boys cared. They all watched it. Sometimes, you just need to watch something that has nothing to do with anything. It’s a way to switch off. Being deployed and away from my in-laws, and being an expat and being so far from my own family, watching the Kardashians makes me see that some people actually like their family. Mostly I think they like each other too much and could use some other people in their lives, but I get that they probably do have other friends, they just don’t want to be part of the show. But for half an hour I get to witness family time. I get to see people interacting. I get to hear family tell each other they love them. It’s something I don’t get down here.

Before you judge someone because they watch crappy reality shows, understand that not everything has to be super intellectual all the time. Life has to have some fun in it. If you have a fun job and crave high brow TV when you get home, great. If you have a super stressful job and silly TV gives your mind a break, then power to you. That’s why there’s so many different styles of show on TV. That way we all have something to entertain us and take our mind off life. Don’t tell people they’re stupid because they choose to watch Lara Bingle or Celebrity Apprentice. For people with stressful jobs, it’s much cheaper than talking to a shrink and better for you than unwinding with a 6 pack.

If you don’t like reality or silly TV, don’t watch it. Change the channel. But don’t demand it be taken off TV or spend all day on websites bitching about it. While you’re watching 4 Corners, I’ll be watching Fashion Police. I won’t judge you and I hope you won’t judge me in return.