I’ll admit it. I more than “know” who Snooki is, I have actually watched an episode and a half of MTV’s Jersey Shore. I also watch Million Dollar Listing, The Real Housewives (doesn’t matter where they are from, I watch them), Prep School and before it was taken off the air, Rock of Love. And, to prove that I am not totally stuck in the gutter when it comes to my reality television viewing, I’ll add that I regularly watch Top Chef and MTV’s Teen Moms and True Life. Those shows have some educational value, right?
I could say that I watch reality television as a way of staying current. Or, better yet, that I do it as a way to monitor what my 16-year-old is watching. If I am also watching then she and I can discuss how disgusting it was that Snooki was punched by a drunk male teacher. Together we can examine how tough it is for teen moms to parent. We can bond over discussion centered on how Bret Michaels has gone too far with the Botox and wonder how much hair is left under his bandana. And discuss it we do. But the truth is, I watch these shows because I can’t help myself!
It’s true, I’m addicted. I like to think of myself as well-read and sophisticated and when it comes to some things, I am. I watch documentaries and listen to NPR. If I am home during the day, CNN is on. But when the sun goes down and I am ready to turn my brain off for the day, I turn to Bravo, MTV or E! to help me numb (dumb) out.
I grew up watching Norman Lear’s classics: Maude, All in the Family and The Jeffersons. I loved Mash. As a child I definitely watched too much television, but at least it wasn’t junk. I learned about racism, women’s rights and the clearly dysfunctional but somehow functioning family. I laughed and cried and didn’t feel like I needed to take a shower after watching. TV shows such as those are a thing of the past. Yes, occasionally a great series does make it to air and if we are really fortunate will last a season or two. Friday Night Lights comes to mind as do The Office and Monk. Shows such as these are the exception and not the rule. There hasn’t been a show as great as Freaks and Geeks since Freaks and Geeks and that is nothing short of a travesty.
I am aware that I am part of the problem. The fact that I eagerly lap up cheap to produce reality TV drivel encourages producers and networks to serve up more of the same. It is a vicious cycle, no? If I can redeem myself slightly it is by saying that even I have limits. I refuse to watch the Charm School franchise or anything that involves cheating or repeated use of the word “hoe.” Which brings me to this, I stopped watching Rock of Love when the bus came into play. Even I have my standards.
Time to ‘fess up, do you too know who Snooki is?