Why I Quit Watching All Reality Television (& You Should, Too!)

Reality Television is a Waste of TimeI still remember watching early episodes of The Real World when it launched many years ago on MTV. And wow, it was groundbreaking. And fascinating.

These days, there's no shortage of reality television shows. In fact, there are whole television channels completely dedicated to it.

And as much as I indulged in my fair share of reality television, a couple of years ago, I decided enough was enough. And boy, am I glad I made that decision.

I used to make the excuse that after a long day working and caring for my kids, I just needed to sit down and let my brain relax with mindless television. No documentaries. No educational programming. Nothing that required any level of thinking. Please.

Just complete, utter ridiculousness.

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That's why I first started watching reality television, specifically The Real Housewives on Bravo. That's also why I'd grab People and Us Weekly instead of Wired or the New Yorker at the bookstore. 

Who doesn't love watching a trainwreck?

I added a few other shows into the mix, for a little variety, I suppose, and that's pretty much all I'd watch on television save a couple of HBO shows. Day in and day out I was satiated on other people's problems and drama.

Then a few things happened:

1. I spent a few days with a real housewife from one of the shows who informed me as to how scripted and programmed the show actually is. I pretty much already knew that was the case, but when I heard to what extent, I was pretty disgusted.

2. I saw an image of one of the stars of 16 and Pregnant on a magazine in the grocery store and something went off inside me. I was angry that they'd exploit kids and their own kids for money.

3. I watched a short online video clip of photographers chasing down Jennifer Garner and her children outside a grocery store and felt just as guilty as the paparazzi because here I was watching the footage they were paid to take.

I'm not so naive to think that people don't make their own choices, and they decide to subject themselves to cameras 24 hours a day and the scrutiny, criticism, and yes, fame that come with it. And I understand that being a movie star or high profile person comes with fandom and an amount of public curiosity.

And sure, there are a few reality shows that are decent, like Project Runway and Top Chef.

But I decided that I would not support this brand of voyeurism. And that I'd rather spend my time enjoying activities that would have a positive effect on my own life, as well as my kids'.

And guess what? I feel so much better.

What do you think of reality television?


Image via unlistedsightings/Flickr

16 & pregnant, celebrity gossip, real housewives, reality tv, real world, teen mom


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Kate Cooley

Top Chef and Project Runway are less "reality shows" than they are "contest shows". I don't think they deserve to be in the same category as the "Real Housewives" shows, which are nothing but watching and rooting for others' misfortunes. I don't bother with the "Real Housewives" or "gawking at people" variety of shows, so I get what you're at here.

lobus lobus

Good for you. I've stopped watching most of the RH just cause they got tired and boring. However I love several other reality shows like The Challenge and Top Chef and Teen Mom and others. I wouldn't hold my breath on that Nobel Peace prize if I were you...and I.seriously doubt whatever shows you choose to watch during your private time away from kids has that much of impact on them.

ashjo85 ashjo85

I hate reality TV. I like a few contest shows though, like Hell's Kitchen. And even those I think are contrived to a point.

abra819 abra819

meh, I stopped watching them all.

Kacey Schamehorn

I agree with you, there is so much reality shows and found myself thinking are they ever gonna stop. They thought of every different type but all lead up to the same of fighting and trying to become rich seriously its sickening. I miss more of the shows I grew up with although not educational and mindless to the point but pure entertainment the sitcoms yeah a little corny at times but I would take the canned laughter feel good family shows any day over what's on television nowadays.

nonmember avatar BostonBob

I'll take a good documentary or travel show as my "reality" dosage. Ditto for science shows (my 6yo son LOVES "How the universe works" on Science Channel).

Of course I'm totally into "Homeland" now. I'm not sure that makes me a better parent or not.

there... theresaphilly

I no longer watches it and haven't for two years. It is sad to see grown women act like junior high school girls over the stupidest things; she said this, she ignored me, she don't like me ... That is so stupid. They bad and don't care. 

Melis... Melissa1508

I've never watched any of the RHW shows...they looked absolutely ridiculous.  Nor have I watched the Kardashians.  I admit I tried to watch the first episode, and after 5 minutes, I was like what the fuck is this?  Why should we care about this?  Not much reality TV here, thanks.

Susan Sirmons

As you discovered, the reality shows are actually very scripted. So you end up with poor plots, bad writing and even worse acting. Give me professional writing and acting any day -- Law & Order, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Modern Family, etc. No comparison, the Kardashians suck.

the4m... the4mutts

Yeah, I never understood reality shows. I love contest shows like cupcake wars, and halloween wars though! But those give me inspiration and teach me things as well.

Ive never watched more than a few minutes or reality tv, and I never will

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