I know most of it is absolute trash.
I understand it's become the playground for the exploitation of black men and women. I totally get most of it is scripted, and the "reality" of it all is more intentional than anything else.
I can't stop watching reality television.
I need help.
On one hand, I can't stand reality shows, but on the other hand I don't miss an episode, and if I do, the DVR is always there to save me.
I'm a hypocrite.
I watch season after season, as the plots replay each time: fake love, sex, fake money, fake houses, fake drama, fake people. I complain about what I see, but I still faithfully tune in: every season, every week.
I'm a hypocrite.
A hypocrite is defined as a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.
That's me in every sense of the word.
Over the years, as the popularity of reality television blossomed, my fascination with it strengthened even though my moral stances continued to conflict with most of what it represented. I often justified my need to watch reality tv by telling people, "I work in tv, I'm watching to see how crafty they can be with the camera angles" or "It's not the content as much as it is my interest in the editing techniques."
But the truth is, I've been lying to others, and I've been lying to myself.
I love reality tv. It's entertaining, it's funny and despite whatever "drama" is going on, reality television never invites the viewer to take it too seriously.
I also hate reality tv.
I cringe when I see black women prancing around professing to be bad bitches. I'm angered when I see them giving men permission to objectify them at any cost. I can't stand when cast members sit around (because I guess they don't have anything better to do) and plot on how to "clapback" at another group of cast members for an offense so minor it wouldn't piss off a second grader.
And most of all...
I hate to see them fight! It drives me completely nuts! It's one of the things that repulses me about the "Love & Hip Hops," "Black Ink Crews," "Real Housewives," and "Basketball Wives of LA's" of the world.
Guilt ridden and completely exhausted by the redundant narratives, I still watch.
Is my dilemma clear now? I need help.
Once I acknowledged and accepted my hypocrisy, I was forced to find out where it stemmed from. I've come to understand my "love hate" relationship with reality tv and my hypocrisy is connected to how I view myself. I watch several different types of reality tv shows, and each of them leave me feeling the same way: annoyed, entertained, frustrated, mind-boggled, relieved I'm not the people I often see on the screen and more than anything else, I feel better about myself.
And then the light bulb came on.
I'm a hypocrite, because somewhere I forgot to remember I have insecurities, and in some sick twisted way, watching broken people be unapologetically "themselves" on television makes me feel better about myself. With each show, I'm heaved onto my imaginary high horse, my insecurities hiding behind "their" misery, "their" mischief, "their" mistakes. I'm left thinking "at least I don't act like that." "They" further fuel my elitist tendencies; all the while, contributing to my lack of self love.
This makes me wonder, maybe the controversial content in some reality shows isn't about the shows at all. Maybe it's about me embracing who I am with no conditions, no doubts and no need for approval from others. Maybe I just have to simply be ok with "me." Maybe, just maybe, when I embrace all of who I am, I'll have the power to turn the channel.
The truth is, I want to be just like "them." I want to have the courage to be transparent with the world's eyes watching, the guts to go after whatever I choose, the strength to stomach constant criticism and the grace to accept the praise.
Now before you get up in arms about my take on reality tv, I'll bring some balance to this.
Granted, we do need a shift in reality television narratives. All black women aren't obnoxious, sex crazed balls of confusion looking for "a come up." All black men aren't womanizing rappers looking for an excuse to be reckless. All white people aren't rich and naive, throwing lavish parties for absolutely no reason. I also don't believe all reality tv is bad, nor are the people who star in them. But to say they and reality tv can be and do better is more than fair.
Thankfully, we are witnessing several networks serving as paradigm shifts, most notably: "Born This Way," "60 Days In," "Dance Moms," "Bring It," along with several reality shows on OWN.
So, will I stop watching reality television?
But I'll never watch the same. I won't watch as the coward criticizing the brave. I won't watch as a pretender.
I won't watch as a hypocrite.