7 Reasons We Watch Reality TV

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A guy friend recently asked if I could marinate on the question of why myself and other women he knows seem to like reality shows more than men (he despises them). I decided an awesome way to find out why would be to write an article and do some research on my blog readers and friends. First of all we’re (mis)educated women, we’re not your average trashy American who watches Jerry Springer instead of being a functioning adult. However it seriously appears ridiculous that we love our reality tv.

Girls love reality television the way that guys (and other girls) love sports which are also competitive and unscripted. These are the top reasons I have found that I really enjoy watching some reality TV shows and also reasons that you other beautiful ladies do too.

1. Automatic Fame & Status

As human beings we are very curious of the idea of a quick rise to fame and status for doing little to nothing. How curious that someone can just be chosen to appear on a reality show and be watched by millions instantly? It’s a psychological curiosity and entertaining fantasy for many human beings even if they do not want to be famous. As a child my dream careers were acting and singing.. I did both a lot.. and as a blogger if people recognize me out and about I feel a bit anxious. So it seems I am not cut out for that sort of fame if I would like to survive with any sort of sanity.. but it sure is a curiosity to see others experience it.

I don’t watch reality TV, except for British Baking, The others creep me out. I guess that I am the outlier. I have seen America’s Top Model because Tyra Banks is a genius–and I do like seeing how some of the not-so-pretty girls are gorgeous when they are made up. ~Kathy

2. Competition

Whether it’s a game show or physical competition it is compelling to watch other people competing for something on tv. Rather it be for a husband, a job or prize money everyone on the show is competing to be the most extreme personality by manipulation, backstabbing, sweetness and love. If you’re not entertaining in some way you will not get a rose, back stage pass or whatever the hell else they’re passing out to keep you on tv.

3. Voyeurism

Watching people when you feel like you’re not supposed to is a guilty pleasure for many of us humans. In the Journal of Media Psychology, Dr. Lemi Baruh distinguishes this “nosy voyeurism” from the more sexual form of voyeurism. Seeing how other people live and experience life behind closed doors is a common attraction to reality tv.

I watch them because I like seeing how other people “live”, it’s a combination of the curious part of me with comparing myself to them. A lot of the shows have competition in them too. Some are so over the top. I don’t know but I enjoy every single one of them. ~ Nicki

4. Gossip

The impulse to talk behind someone’s back is quite a common character flaw. Research shows that our brains are wired for critical gossip. “Gossip is helping you to predict who is friend and who is foe,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, professor of psychology at Northeastern University via NPR. The human brain is wired to respond to gossip, researchers say. And it adds to the evidence that gossip helped early humans get ahead. Reality shows give us the opportunity to gossip about other people while hurting no one (unless you’re doing it openly over social media).

I get slack all the time for watching reality tv. I work in the mental health field and see enough real drama and sadness. I watch those shows just to take my mind off the real horrible things. I call it “junk food tv” because even though it’s not good for you it’s just fun and ridiculous. No I don’t want to emulate their actions I just want to peek in to their nonsense before I go back to the real world. ~Ruthie

5. Drama

You don’t have to get your fill from drama in your own life.. instead you can just wait for the family to go to bed and fill up on reality drama. When the show is over you can read about all of the legal issues, feuds and other drama involving these people you’ve gotten to know and experience on television and it’s strangely satisfying.

They’re crazy over the top and ridiculous (in comparison to my life) which humors me and yet sometimes they seem real and I’m a little touched (example: Lauren Manzo and her wedding with her parents made me teary). I’ve also been really touched by shows like Intervention and Under Cover Boss… they me every damn time. I’m not really sure… I will say sometimes its a better escape for me after a stressful day because I dont have the time or attention span for movies and shows for the most part. ~Ashley

6. We can multitask

Unlike many movies, reality shows do not require your undivided attention to enjoy them or follow what’s going on. The ability to do other things while watching television is another part of the appeal because as women we’re better at multitasking, according to a recent study in the Journal of Biomedical Science Science. My husband and I discuss this often because he knows (and sees) women are hardwired to multitask while he cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. I personally LOVE to have a cheesy reality show going on, a coffee in my hand and a snack near by while I’m blogging or designing a few collateral pieces for a client.

7. Confidence

It’s inspiring to see someone’s real flaws and struggles while also maintaining their lives in some way and also seeing women who seemingly have it all but cannot get a grip. The scripted and airbrushed women in polished media tend to make other women inadequate, so many girls look to reality TV for reassurance. Not only does the genre showcase all kinds of human inadequacies but many times you can see women without makeup, without their hair fixed and un-primped. We don’t get this opportunity in scripted shows and movies.

When I watch rich housewives who are absolutely miserable, it makes me feel better about my poor, simple life. ~Kimi

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Lastly I was asked which shows I prefer because there are so many reality shows that I feel your mere preference says something about why you watch them as well. Also my favorite types of films tend to be documentaries and I feel it’s a similar thing.. I’m getting to see and understand things I can’t get from a scripted film or show.

The ones I enjoy most are Catfish (about people who find out if their online BFF or lover are true or someone else), Couples Therapy (I don’t know why but I love seeing other peoples relationship dynamics), True Life (depending on the topic), Dr. Phil (how embarrassing but I can really go for an episode while I work), Rupauls Drag Race (because the whole show is beautiful, inspiring and hilarious), Intervention, Hoarders, Walk of Shame Shuttle, America’s Next Top Model, Hell’s Kitchen (yumm), My Strange Obsession (and all the spin-offs similar to that) and I used to love Simple Life, Celebrity Rehab, Bag Girl’s Club (which I was long ago offered a part on–ack!!) and Jersey Shore (haha). I also love crime-solving shows and shows about murder which are sort of reality shows as well.

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