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Why am I obsessed with Reality TV? Send help!

In a recent client meeting we were asked around the table ‘what the latest TV series we were watching’ in an attempt to give a quick insight into each of us beyond just the usual job title.

I was brutally honest saying that majority of the time my TV is playing kids shows for my two boys (if they’re even paying attention to it) but when I do get some time to myself to become a slob on the couch then I’m mostly watching reality TV shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Vanderpump Rules, Married at First Sight, the list goes on.

I immediately became a little embarrassed as I heard myself say it out aloud and when I saw the reaction around the room it got my thinking, ‘why do I watch these trashy shows?’ I mean, I know Reality TV is mostly fake, so why do I watch it like it’s real? And why can’t I get enough

Insert summer holidays and time to reflect!

Thankfully Psychology Today has shared a post by Melanie Greenberg (of which has a Ph.D. and is a licensed Psychologist, and expert on Mindfulness, Media, Celebrity and Relationships) to help put things into perspective for me with an article called, Why We Can’t Stop Watching.

Firstly, I’m so relived to know I’m not alone, I’m not the only one watching this or the first to admit it. I have so many smart, successful friends that share the same guilty pleasure of loving juicy, dramatic, trashy reality TV. It’s like a car crash, you don’t want to watch but you just can’t help it and want more.
So, WHY can’t we turn away? Here’s my take on the article.

Seeing the lifestyles of extremely rich or famous (or just very emotionally immature and dramatic) people is foreign to our own lives, so it serves as the perfect escape where we can watch something without our minds being drawn back to familiar stressors. It’s pure entertainment.

The cast members take risks we are unwilling to take in our own lives. Getting drunk and made bad, potentially life-altering, decisions is something most people grow out of by their mid-20’s. The idea of seeing people act against their own interests and do things like have bathroom sex with a random person is kind of thrilling to think about, but something that for most of us, is a lot more fun (and safer) to watch than do.

These shows allow us to live our insane perfectionist fantasies. People on reality shows often have the time/money/lifestyle resources to focus on whatever they want to do. Through watching these shows, we can live our own fantasies of what we’d do with unlimited resources: get a revenge body like Khloe, dedicate ourselves to an athletic pursuit, achieve beauty standards though money/surgery, or just be a better partner or parent in a way that’s only realistic when you don’t have any real-life concerns. (This may be one reason Rob Kardashian has drawn so much ire, he goes against the grain of the perfectionist fantasy we have about ourselves being in his situation).

We can make real life conclusions about human nature by watching it play out in the microcosm of a show.
So, next time one of your friends tries to feel guilty about indulging in their (extremely normal) need for entertainment, remind them that smart people are going to get something to think about out of anything. It doesn’t always have to be documentaries or something high-brow. If you’re a curious person, anything will make you think and question. And we all need some time to switch-off and relax.
I don’t know about you but I, for one, feel liberated.

Now, pass me the remote and some ice-cream. It’s my turn to have the remote!

You can read the full article by Phycology Today here.