I have not always been what one would call “disciplined.” That is, I’ve never been great at sticking to a schedule. But recently, I’ve managed to set up a routine I can stick to. Sunday at 10 p.m., I dutifully tune in to TLC’s Breaking Amish and again at 8 p.m. on Tuesday for Extreme Cheapskates. Thursday nights, I cheat on TLC with MTV for Jersey Shore. Friday nights are reserved for The Fashion Police on E!. Now, before you think my life is one endless parade of reality shows, I feel I ought to defend myself; sometimes I watch reruns of old sitcoms. And, when I need to know what’s going on in the world, I’ll tune into E! News. What I’m getting at here is that I, like many of my fellow college students, enjoy watching trashy reality television.
I know that there are those snobs who roll their eyes at the mention of reality television. They are the same people who scoff at anything that’s not “cerebral” or “stimulating.” They are the ones who gag at the following buzzwords: Snooki, Kardashian, and fist pump. They’ll argue that reality television is “fake” or “shallow,” and say that they have “better things to do with their time.”
In a way, I can understand the hate. Usually, the subjects of these shows are falling-down drunk, surgically enhanced, over-the-top hot messes. So, they aren’t saints. But who among us is? Why do we have to vilify harmless entertainment? Why do we sequester these shows to our “guilty pleasure” files? Last time I checked, reality television isn’t a crime that one should feel guilty about. Sure, you might lose a few brain cells every time you tune into the Real Housewives, but that doesn’t make you a criminal.
In a way, reality television is like junk food. It’s cheap and strangely satisfying, but an hour later you’re hungry for more. As long as you don’t overdo it, you should be fine. The nice thing is, reality TV doesn’t settle on your hips and thighs in quite the same way as a Big Mac. It contains no cancer causing carcinogens (that we know of because, let’s face it, everything fun eventually causes cancer). And really, isn’t life all about moderation? After a week of healthful eating and exercising, you should by all means indulge in some fries come Saturday night. So why not give our brain a rest, too? Stressing out about papers, tests and reading assignments is taxing. But it’s nothing that an hour (or five) of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo can’t solve.
So let’s make a pact to stop feeling guilty for indulging our reality TV appetites. We all need down time to decompress and relax. Sometimes it takes a little; sometimes an entire evening. I admit to maybe indulging too much and too often. Perhaps I’ll work on that sometime. Maybe it’ll be my New Year’s resolution. Or maybe I’ll wait. The new season of Kourtney and Kim take Miami starts in January. I have to at least watch that.
By Jen Weiss