Confessions of a Reality TV Lurker

Photo Credit: Flash.pro (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Flash.pro (Creative Commons)

As a teacher of teens, you’d think I’d have my fill of freakish behavior. Like I need to watch more on my own time? Ah, but I do.

Reality TV is, like, a lurker’s Shangri-la. Yes, these shows are scripted and heavily edited. Yes, the contestants are chosen because of their entertainment value. But the mix of personalities makes a fascinating study in human behavior.

Years of essay writing have me listing these in reverse order, with my favorites at the bottom. The first three I surf, watching only snippets. Because too much drama is too much. But the last three? Those I go to school on.

SayYes-LogoThe right dress can make all the difference to a woman. As a “non-girly” girl, I marvel at how this works. And at how much money some gals can blow through–other people’s money! As for their opinionated friends and family, oh my word. Get over yourselves, people. You’re not the one wearing the dress. And is airing your fine opinions worth damaging your relationship with the bride?

ProjectRunway-LorealLogoThe designs that contestants come up with fascinate me. Combine a bolt of cloth, accessories, and attitude. Voila, an outfit. Not necessarily an attractive outfit or something I would wear, but still. The something-from-nothing is a hook, and also the fact that the designers must actually do work. I tune in for the final 15 minutes.

TopModel-LogoI watch to see the photo stills at the end. How is it that the camera loves certain faces? And how can an image be so vastly more glamorous than the actual girl? And how important is it for an attractive young woman to keep her petty complaints to herself?

Treehouse-Masters-LogoBecause Pete Nelson is just so likable. The camera work is excellent, the locations are easy on the eyes, and who doesn’t want a tree house? This is another show where the “stars” are workmen, not drama queens, and they love what they do. This one I watch from start to finish.

DirtyJobs-LogoDitto for Mike Rowe. He delights in being Everyman, is comfortable in front of the camera, can toss off one-liners with ease, and willingly puts himself in shiver-worthy work situations. Plus the man’s a darn good writer.

SharkTank-LogoThis one is my current favorite. I like the banter, the crisp intelligence, and the practical advice. Again, I’m watching working people who have learned by doing, and the questions they ask are excellent. In the process I’ve come to realize that I am more than just in business for myself. I am an entrepreneur–a scary word! –both as the creator of my fiction and its promoter. As a marketer, I kind of stink!

 
In our social media-driven world, what I need to learn about getting out there–being likable, being real, being myself–is a lot. So this teacher is going to school, Reality School, with Pete Nelson and Mike Rowe and the six Sharks. And I’m reminded about what NOT to do from the others.

Are you a Reality TV lurker like me? Which shows are your favorites? Ah, but are there some you love to hate?

18 thoughts on “Confessions of a Reality TV Lurker

  1. Laura Hile Post author

    I began watching Yes to the Dress because my youngest son was engaged. He’d be sitting on the sofa, scrolling with his phone, and I’d tune in. Pretty soon he was no longer scrolling. The expressions on his face were priceless. “Five-thousand dollars? For a dress?” Poor fellow. He was not used to demanding, expensive women.

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  2. Gayle Mills

    Reality shows? I’d never have thought it, Laura. I used to be hooked on cooking shows until I realized I probably wouldn’t like what they were cooking even if they served it up on my little dining table. But I did get some ideas on cooking methods and cooking utensils, and I did become a little braver in trying spices and improvising. I also went through a phase where I watched decorator shows, especially those that took a ho-hum house and remodeled it to a ta-da finish. Then those shows started weirding out on me, too. I guess it was inevitable.

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      I forgot a few, like Beachfront Bargain Hunt (if I had a beach house, I would live there). The gotta-have-the-money decorating and real estate shows are fun for a time, but lose their fizz.

      I also forgot to list Married at First Sight, a fascinating look at commitment and why modern dating has failed us. My (very nice-looking and employed!) bachelor sons watched it with me, as it sparked their interest. Not that they will bestir themselves to find a girlfriend…

      They’re in the building stage of their careers and tell me they’re not stable enough yet. Meanwhile, the nice girl inventory continues to decline…

      There is a new season of Married at First Sight coming this spring, so I’ll blog about it then, I guess.

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  3. Gayle Mills

    I was being fitted for new glasses this week (Is #3 clearer, or #4? — I HATE that!), and my doctor and I were chatting between questions (see parentheses above), and he mentioned that he and his wife watch “Dancing with the Stars” because they love ballroom dancing. My only comment was that the few times I’ve watched it, I didn’t see anything that could realistically be done (or worn) in a typical ballroom setting. LOL

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    1. Laura Hile

      I cannot watch shows that make me squirm with embarrassment. Honey Boo-Boo and Bachelor / Bachelorette are two that made me shudder. 90-Day Fiance looked interesting, but when I realized that some of the people were not dealing with a full deck (intelligence-wise), I became uneasy.

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  4. Susan Kaye

    The only reality show I watch in toto is The Amazing Race. Bill and I watch it as a Rorschach test of our marriage. It’s great to see which teams will fall apart and which will tighten up as the race is run. Besides, the host, Phil Koeghan is pleasant, genuinely kind when a team is eliminated, and seems like a guy who might be nice to have a drink with.

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      I have several friends who enjoy The Amazing Race. I’ll have to take a look. Sounds like another resource for crafting fictional characters and their conflicts.

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      1. Susan Kaye

        For me, TAR becomes like The Hunger Games in that it takes ordinary people and places them in extraordinary circumstances. The differences is contestants self-select to be placed in the circumstances. And they don’t die if they fail. Unless crossing the mat last is actually more deadly than disappointing .

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  5. Sophia Rose

    I’ve tried a few reality shows to see what the fuss is about, but its not my thing. I’m such a private person that I get vicariously squirmy for these folks ‘barin’ all’. My hubby however loves the survival types like the homesteaders in Alaska and Wyoming, the guys out pitting themselves against dangerous environments, the pickers and the Vegas pawn guys and the Duck Dynasty family. I will sit down for a bit, but even those are pushing it for me. I imagine several of these are good sources to find out how people work well together or survive under adverse conditions if you wanted to do character studies.

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    1. Susan Kaye

      Sophia Rose–I absolutely HATE watching people experience embarrassment. Whether it’s a planned element or just comes about organically, I have to look away. I even look away at fictional embarrassment. Trying to write it is usually painful, but I’ve been working on a piece and there’s a fair bit of it on the part of one character. Surprisingly, it’s going pretty well.

      Maybe at 56 I’m getting over it.

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  6. Laura Hile

    I hear you both about embarrassment, real and fictional. Writing it is a delicate dance between just enough to be entertaining without truly shaming the embarrassed person. Unless she happens to be someone who deserves a dose, like Mary Musgrove, whose self-serving remarks are spoken at the worst times.

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    1. Robin Helm

      Speaking of embarrassment, I heard that the reality TV show we were on seven years ago is about to be resurrected in all its glory, This time, they’ll show the entire first season and continue to film after that. Wow. Now that’s hanging over my head, too.

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      1. Susan Kaye

        The good thing about most reality shows is that they don’t do reruns, and very few go to disc. Maybe the one in question will creep by relatively unnoticed.

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        1. Robin Helm

          I should be so lucky. The whole series aired in the Asian Pacific, and it was a hit. Now I would get a giggle out of seeing us dubbed in Korean or Japanese.

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  7. Robin Helm

    We watch Tree House Masters, too, though I don’t like it. We all like Chopped, Fixer Upper, and Property Brothers (though Larry thinks the last two shows are driving my need to redecorate). I do have to admit that those last two made me see how dated my house was.

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    1. Susan Kaye

      You mentioned Chopped. When it comes to THOSE sorts of shows,
      it’s Alton Brown’s Cutthroat Kitchen all the way. If I were not revolting cheaply, I’d have cable for that show alone.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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