The Sweet Escape of Reality

I am addicted to reality TV. Well not all of it.

In my case, the main source of my affliction (and my enjoyment) is NBC’s The Biggest Loser.

I know I am not alone. Millions of people are tuning in each week, making this one of the most popular shows on TV.

But it goes beyond entertainment for me.

I actually feel like I am accomplishing something,  each week as the contestants face difficult challenges and transform their bodies.

I know this is a bit absurd (especially as I often watch lying on my bed eating my dessert).

But I can’t stop watching and I get this perverse thrill at every successful weigh in.

Like I’m the one slimming down in front of America instead of 15 virtual strangers.

The only other reality show I have this kind of addiction to is American Idol. And I guess it’s driven by the same vicarious thrill…transformation.

I love seeing the contestants all raw talent (but little poise) during the auditions and Hollywood week..and then by the finale they are transformed into veritable super stars.

For me, I guess, reality TV is about putting myself in the shoes of people that I can identify with and watching them accomplish something I aspire to.

Which is why I don’t really understand the train wreck like appeal of other reality shows like the Jersey Shore or John and Kate Plus Eight.

What am I missing? This is a judgement free zone. I’d really like to hear from fans of other reality shows and understand what drives your interest, and perhaps your addiction.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

Which reality TV shows are you hooked on?

10 thoughts on “The Sweet Escape of Reality

  1. American Idol… and it’s not for all the clowns FOX likes to show us in its first few weeks… and it’s not for the Soap Opera & over-blown “drama” of Hollywood Week, either.

    … it’s the sheer fact that these kids (and I can call them kids as I am at least 10 years older than the oldest possible contestants) get up in front of the world with a microphone and sing for us.

    I can “work a room” as good as anyone, and have no problems in just about any social situation, but give me a mic and tell me to sing…?!? Fuhghettaboutit. Karaoke? Not for me, thx!

    I appreciate the strength & daring they show in an arena I do not think I could compete in.

    I also think it’s pretty cool that Carrie Underwood was driving a tractor this time in 2004, and now she’s on top of the world. WOW! Good for her.

    PS– a distant 2nd is The Apprentice (NOT the celebrity versions, but the Old-School version with past-winners Bill, Randall & Sean). Trump is a bit over-blown, but some of those Boardroom scenes are priceless. I also try to put myself in the high-wire act of their challenges: do I get out in front to perform & risk failure just to be fired for taking the lead?! OR, sit back, let the drama unfold and try to fly under the radar till you can find your opening…

  2. my addiction to reality television comes and goes. depending on the television season and my mood i have alternately been addicted to america’s next top model, american idol, so you think you can dance, the amazing race and, probably most embarrassingly, rock of love. i often wonder about the level of embarrassment and shame people seem to have regarding admitting to watching these shows. have you noticed how they are so often referred to as “guilty pleasures”? i think the aspirational quality you noted regarding some of the performance/accomplishment based series make them seem more acceptable -like you’re cheering someone on or inspiring yourself – but other shows like rock of love, tool academy and jersey shore are the reality tv equivalent of rubbernecking. those trashier shows are not pretty but sometimes you just can’t help but look – and then feel guilty for not reading the new yorker instead!

  3. @Gregg actually watched an Idol rerun tonight from last season (is that bad?. What struck me this time was how bored the judge’s seemed. How can you ask for a better job than that? Seriously. Actually looking forward to Ellen coming in and bringing a bit of joy, energy and optimism.

    you?

  4. @Meaghan. Forgot about America’s Next Top Model. The ultimate transformation show. Love it. Does really teach these girls something. And what I also like is that it shows the non-glamourous side of modelling as well (e.g. long shoots, cold, uncomfortable etc.). Thanks for the comment. Haven’t checked out Jersey Shore yet, but as student of pop culture I think it’s inevitable.

  5. not sure if I am jacked about Ellen or not…

    what I am excited about is the loss of Paula, the Babbling Idiot. She really could not put coherent sentences back-to-back. Thought Kara was a nice addition (loved her showing up Bikini-girl in the tryouts last year– she CAN sing!)… but 4 up there is too much critiquing. More song, less talk.

    Losing Paula & dropping back to 3 would have been my preference. I think Ellen will be fine and her usual perky & quirky persona, but still think 4 up there is too much.

  6. OK, I’ll bite: I watched Survivor for the first 2 seasons, but when they started intentionally starving the contestants (i.e., not providing even enough plain white rice to subsist), I quit cold-turkey. I like American Idol, but won’t watch the auditions and only tune in when they get down to the top 16 or so. It means I miss some of the full transformations, but I can’t stand seeing people make fools of themselves (intentionally or not) or be totally insulted by the judges. Be constructive, please! And finally, I cannot look away from Celebrity Rehab (and Sober House) with Dr. Drew. Total train wreck, but some of these people really do commit to changing their lives (while others are in such COMPLETE denial) and I find it absolutely fascinating.

  7. @Gregg totally agree about 3 vs. 4 judges. Especially when they run over and mess with my Tivo but I guess we’ll have to make the best of it.

  8. @Shelley I think I quit Survivor quite early on when they let that guy (Richard?) go naked on his birthday.

    I haven’t seen Celebrity Rehab but the combination of Heidi Fleiss (Hollywood Madame) and McKenzie Philips (she’s like a glossary of issues) just might compel me to tune in this season.

    Thanks for the comment.

  9. I don’t watch any of these shows. Never have. But let’s be honest. Our country long ago abandoned any pretense of a highbrow cultural sensitivity. As a society, we are all about reveling in the weird, freakish dirty laundry of others. And the freakier the better. Whether it’s Jerry Springer and all of his wannabes, whether it’s Howard Stern or whether it’s any of these TV reality shows.

    It’s all about the titillation of voyeurism.

    So you may not get the Jersey Shore show. But someone does.

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