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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Defending trash TV: Lessons learned from reality shows

    I have a confession. I’ve been successfully brainwashed by America’s favorite love-to-hate family: the Kardashians. Delusions of grandeur, bright pink jumpsuits, two-story hotel suites and Kim’s latest failed romance draw me back in week after week, because, at their best, shows like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” are really situational comedies.

    It seems like the formula works: Approximately 3.2 million viewers tuned in to the November premiere of “Kourtney and Kim Take New York” to witness the dysfunction, melodrama and obnoxious opulence that permeate all things Kardashian. By the time the credits roll, my thought process was so superficial that I feel like I need to crack open a copy of “War and Peace” to redeem myself.

    We’ve all been there. But why do we feel the need to describe our fascination with reality TV as a “guilty pleasure,” like it’s a chargeable offense, or fear being judged because we find “mindless entertainment” actually entertaining from time to time? We’re in college because we want to contribute to society somehow, and frankly, sometimes reality TV teaches us lessons on how not to do this more effectively than any psychology 101 class ever could.

    Here’s a short list of reality shows that have taught me valuable lessons over the years, purposely or not.

    ‘Flavor of Love’
    (2006-2008)

    In the first of VH1’s increasingly trashy reality shows featuring D-list celebrities looking for love, Flavor Flav romanced girls half his age by letting them run amok in his mansion while participating in weekly “challenges” (fried chicken, anyone?). Three seasons later, Flav still hadn’t found love.

    Lesson learned: Love can’t be bought with a giant clock, and the state of New York wants its name back.

    ‘Teen Mom’
    (2009-present)

    One only needs to watch half an episode to realize this show should really be called “Teens Making Complete Asses of Themselves Despite Being Moms.”

    Lesson learned: The show basically acts as an hour-long endorsement of protected sex, and doles out doses of hard reality on what it’s really like to be a young parent.

    ‘The Real World’
    (1992-present)

    The mother of all reality shows may only be a shadow of its former self (remember when it seemed like one season lasted half the year?), but it continues to be a hit due to the inevitable intrigue of the famous line, “This is the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house …”

    Lesson learned: They may be shallow, close-minded and hiding a few skeletons in their closets, but watching these young adults throw drunken tantrums on national TV will make anyone feel better about the particularly embarrassing Thirsty Thursday incident last week.

    So after your next reality TV marathon stretches about three hours too long, skip the shame: There’s plenty to be learned from the well-publicized antics of the rich and famous. But if your brain cells start to dip below desired levels, remember there’s plenty of quality TV to be enjoyed too. “Mad Men” (March 25), “Game of Thrones” (April 1) and “The Walking Dead” (Feb. 12) are a few of my picks to earn pop culture cred this spring.

    _ Is scripted drama no longer relevant? Will reality television take over? Daily Wildcat has these answers and more in our Soap Opera vs. Reality TV video!

    — Kate Newton is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatArts.

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