Reality TV: Same Old Table Flipping

I think I’m breaking up with reality tv.

It’s been a slow process for me because I love television. It wasn’t until I had kids that I really limited how much I would watch. We’ve tried to stick to less than two hours a day and, by default, that means I watch less too. Which is good because I have a high threshold for crappy tv, and have, at various times in my life, been known to watch stupid shit just because it was on.

My day job is stressful, as most are. It can even be numbing, at times. Part of why I’ve turned to writing this past year is that it provides me with a creative outlet. I’ve written on and off throughout my life and it has always been enjoyable. So, obviously my free time lately has been spent more on my writing.

But I still need a break. We all need something mindless at times, in this serious and tragic world. One of my guilty pleasures has been reality tv. But that time is precious and I want it to be well-spent, more bang for the buck.

Over the past few weeks, I haven’t been as excited about the reality shows I tend to watch, which at this point are half of the Real Housewives franchise. I like the friendships, the resolutions, the drama, and the alliances. Part of what I’ve loved about RHs is the way the shows have female-centered casts and show the dynamics between them. As a feminist, I get a bit twitchy about watching shows that focus on women being mean/rude/petty with each other. Although I would argue that feminism would certainly posit that women don’t have to try to be “nice” all the time. RH shows can also be pretty plastic. To be fair though, many shows are plastic, materialistic, etc., etc.

Something I’ve come to realize though, is the sheer exhaustion that comes from watching season after season of the same arguments. Yes, I apparently expect character growth out of real people, not just characters. While I appreciate women being able to show their anger, instead of just stuffing it, it still has to go somewhere (and be respectful, not threatening or abusive, etc.). And TO THE SURPRISE OF NO ONE, these shows, and their cast members aren’t going anywhere: same arguments, week after week. Lines drawn that then get crossed, only to be complained about during the painfully awful reunion shows. My tolerance level is about three to five seasons and then I move on. Hey, it’s just tv. There are a lot of great shows on that I watch (obsessively) or learn about and then figure out how to do a full-on glom of back episodes. (Game of Thrones, Girls, Homeland, and Sherlock, I’m talking about you.)

So, that’s how I’m feeling about this silly aspect of my world this week. Just to be clear: this post is about my own decision about what to watch on television. You are free to watch whatever you like, without any judgment from me. Truly. It’s a cruel world and if some show brings you a moment of joy or escape, then awesome. Find your happy.

Any guilty pleasure television shows or series you’ve left behind?

***Updated to add: I haven’t given up watching RH shows, but have decided to embrace the ones I like and (carefully) watch any new reality show. I think Ladies of London was mildly entertaining but ended with a lot of drama and what looked to be some broken relationships. So, just wanted to update this post. (April 2015)

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