Reality TV shows distort our perception of reality

by Rosie Brown

Is it just me, or does it seem like my Facebook news feed is constantly filled with “The Bachelor” chatter? Not to mention, I think “GTL” is a real word in the dictionary, thanks to “Jersey Shore.” My friends who admit that “The Bachelor” is their guilty pleasure defend the TV show for being a good way to relax at the end of a long day, and I’ve heard others even say that the ridiculous characters make them feel better about themselves and their own lives. Still, I feel slightly perturbed, and am concerned that there may be more pros than cons about this fad. One of my own guilty pleasures is Mythbusters, so, in honor of the show’s explosive popularity (pun intended), I will try to “bust” a few myths of my own about reality TV.

Myth 1: Reality TV helps me relax.

The truth: Reality TV is not a relaxant; it’s a distraction from real life. Drinking tea and working out can be relaxing. But reality TV presents a false situation that allows one to pull attention away from problems and stressors in one’s own life rather than eliminating stress or solving problems.

Myth 2: Reality TV makes me feel better about myself.

The truth: “Jersey Shore” does not make me feel better about myself. In fact, it doesn’t even make me think more highly of myself. What really happens is reality TV presents to society at least one character whom the public can unilaterally agree is annoying, unattractive, disliked and therefore much worse a person than I. On a comparative scale, I did not soar a few ranks above; instead, the presence of Jersey Shore’s Snooki or The Bachelor’s “Evil Courtney” mentally get ranked lower than the average viewer, and now I look like a saint in comparison.

Myth 3: Reality TV helps regular people achieve a better life.

The truth: Honestly, that’s debatable. A future of fame for all the bad choices I make in my life, of 95 percent divorce rates, of terrible pictures on the Inter- net, and the tabloids only printing every stupid thing I say? No, thank you. I’d rather just be regular me.

Here is my disclaimer. I personally love the self-improvement reality TV like “The Biggest Loser,” where people are encouraged to live a healthier lifestyle and thus role models for the audience are born. I like the Lifetime show “How to Look Good Naked,” which encourages women of all shapes, sizes and ages to feel comfortable in their own skins and love their bodies. I am not a fan of shows that encourage us to shy away from the reality we live in, that bring the worst and most judgmental sides of us, and that make us believe that fame and money are the only equivalents of success. Life is beautiful, and so are we. Living the life that we are all so lucky to have is perhaps the greatest future I can imagine. Becoming role models for others and loving the way God made you are the most joyful, relaxing thoughts that come to mind. Let’s strip the word “TV” and become just plain fans of Reality.

Brown is a senior majoring in international business. Comments can be sent to

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