As a professional writer, people are often shocked that I watch as much reality TV as I do. When I come home from work, I’m more interested in checking in with the Real Housewives than I am with the Desperate Housewives and I’d often rather watch Dirty Jobs than watch scripted lawyers or doctors do their jobs (though I’m really warming up to Fairly Legal right now!! And Archer is a new favorite, too!)
And when I started thinking about it, it makes perfect sense! Here’s why:
1. It reminds me of why I’m an Oreo. Let’s be honest, black folks rarely look good on reality TV. From back in the day with angry Kevin on MTV’s first Real World, crazy Omarosa on the premiere season of The Apprentice, anyone on Flavor of
STDs Love or the dearth of people of color on higher end reality shows where people are actually showcasing actual talents (apart from Idol, I suppose), reality TV reminds an Oreo why it sucks to be of color and why we must escape it.
2. My brain gets to shut off. Because I often write for my living, it’s hard for me to watch scripted shows without analyzing how they’re doing what they’re doing. I often can’t just wait patiently to find out what crazy hijinks Michael Scott is up to without guessing how they’re going to quietly set up the second act turn.
3. Free education! I actually learn stuff! Here are some of my fave shows and what I tend to glean from them.
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – my current dirtiest pleasure. First, it definitely satisfies the Oreo element as the only black person I’ve seen so far is the limo driver. Second, these self-dubbed “alpha women” must be doing something right, right? Apparently, one of those things is eye contact. While I look away several times during an average conversation so as not to appear too aggressive, these ladies go for it and stare directly into the pupils of their conversation partner with no breaks and often without blinking. Maybe that’s how they’ve risen to the ranks they have. What do you think? Is it the botox or a true conversation tactic?
Hell’s Kitchen – First, I love me some Gordon Ramsay. British, handsome, a rogue with a heart of gold! Second, this show has given me new fun Oreo-tastic things to say. Like when I have dinner parties, I have stopped saying that “dinner’s ready.” Instead, I say that “dinner has been plated,” and add in other fun words from the show like like “pancetta,” “creme fraiche” and “donkey*#&(*))(#$&”
Intervention – First, this is a real downer of a show, but can actually teach a lot about effective and efficient communication–something I’m kind of a geek for. Second, this might be the only show that doesn’t fit my first rule for liking reality TV. Because even though this show is about drug addicts who have often turned to lives of crime and poverty to feed their habits–it rarely, if ever, features black people.
How do you feel about reality TV? Fave shows? Hated shows? Let us know in the comments!
*Shameless Oreo Plug. 1) SmartyPig is a totally cool $-savings tool! I highly recommend it. b) So I have the opportunity to meet with an actor who I love love love in the UK this summer. Trying to make it a successful working holiday and take some other Brit talent out for a pint with the hope of writing for them one day. Should anyone feel inclined to help an Oreo purchase one of those pints, it would be totes appreciated. You can learn more about my trip, and SmartyPig at this link.
I’m very excited to see the Oreo Experience review of VH1’s (and my own) new series “Beverly Hills Fabulous” – premiering March 14th!
I tend to catch bits of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America. It’s interesting, but I don’t really care much about food. It’s the dynamics and egos.
Other than that I generally avoid reality shows. They don’t seem very real.
The British KN is yonks better than the American one, I think. The American one is very ‘produced’ and feels a bit false. The British one feels more sincere. Also, the American one tends to try for a happy Hollywood ending and the British version isn’t afraid to show failure.
OK, so I can finally come out of the closet, and admit that I -love- reality shows too! I don’t get to watch them as often as I would like to (marriage + 1 tv = compromise = no reality shows), but when I do, I love RHoNJ/NY and Kitchen nightmares. I was watching Gordon Ramsey back when he was on British television, and think he’s so entertaining. Even though I know these shows are possibly lower than low when it comes to culture, education, and all that hoopla, they are the only thing that helps me turn my brain off, and goodness knows I need that at the end of every day.