Last night I nearly fell off my couch. As I was flipping through the channels I saw the infamous Abby Lee from Dance Moms previewing a new show. Can you guess what Abby Lee was promoting? None other than ANOTHER reality show about young girls being plucked from their idyllic childhood into the world of professional voyeurism to “star” in their own reality show. The only twist is this one will be set in the UK and called…are you ready? Dance MUMS.
Give me a break.
What is about people today and their seemingly unending interest in other people’s lives? Well, it’s really their interest in other people’s problems. Take Tori Spelling for instance. Her show really took off when infidelity took center stage, and seemed to peak right there in the therapist’s office. Or, everybody’s favorite pre-cursor to today’s reality show format, the Jerry Springer show. Audience members and viewers alike barely listen to the rest of the show, and instead sit with bated breath waiting to see who will take the first swing.
With shows like Keeping Up with Kardashians, The Real Housewives of Everywhere I can Think of, Honey Boo Boo, and Duck Dynasty, there are opportunities for peeping toms of all types to get their fix of watching real people make fools of themselves. And we all know the sillier, the angrier, or the more emotional they get, the harder it is to get off the couch.
What does this say about us as a society? What kind of message does it give our kids?
As a private detective I have known for a long time that we, as a society, like to peep. As soon as someone finds out what I do for a living their eyes brighten and they ask me “what’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen,” or “tell us what’s surprised you most.” Of course, because of confidentiality I can’t share, but I tell them it’s just like watching a reality show.
Capitalizing on this interest in peeping, reality TV has become a darling of the networks. With very little originality, executives create a show that is a textbook success. “Actors” come cheap and gain the notoriety they crave, viewers can’t seem to get enough, and advertisements keep flowing in. Everybody wins.
I’m not a doctor, but it can’t be healthy to watch other people’s mishaps over and over. We’ve long known that being a couch potato is unhealthy, but at least shows that taught us something or made us laugh, made us believe our time in front of the tube wasn’t harmful. Instead, today our children are learning to laugh at other people’s problems, think it’s ok to ridicule one another, and even to get rewarded for being the biggest jerk in the bunch!
And, with the abundance of shows to choose from at all times of day or night, many serial watchers get up only to refill their snack bowl. I know college students who regularly favor binge watching over studying or even socializing. These future leaders are at risk to graduate college overweight, under socialized, and just plain lazy.
I agree its fun to indulge every now and then. A good laugh at the absurdity of the Kardashians never hurt anyone. But, like desserts, too many servings and you’ll get results you don’t want. So, like every diet, the answer is portion control. Limit your intake. Enjoy it for the entertainment it should be, never forgetting for a moment that it is television. When it’s over, turn it off and get back to your life. That’s reality.