I’m not going to sit here all smug and pretend I don’t watch reality TV shows. I do.
And so do you (just go with it).
Watching normal, everyday people on our screen isn’t as unusual as what we might have thought it was when we first heard: “quiet as a mouse as we enter the house” which, if you’re old enough to know, is a reference to Big Brother.
No one is strolling into work of a Thursday morning jacked up on Neighbours plot lines any more.
No, we’re all talking about who stole whose man on Married at First Sight.
And speaking of Married at First Sight, I remember hearing the concept of it and thinking it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard, and couldn’t possibly work as a television program.
And just in case you never got into it, it is essentially a show where two strangers marry each other, are forced into a spousal relationship within a day, and take off on a mind-boggling emotional rollercoaster for everyone (including those playing along at home).
I have standards. I refused to watch such mind-numbing television; choosing instead to rewatch episodes of Gilmore Girls because Stars Hollow has all the drama I need, thank you very much.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine ended up a contestant on Married at First Sight a couple of years ago that I let my standards drop for “two seconds” and “bam” I was hooked and racing home to park myself on the couch in time to watch it every night.
I’ll be honest, I find dating reality TV shows particularly fascinating.
When Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons are airing, don’t even bother talking to me about your work issues or weekend plans - I don’t care.
I don’t care about anything else but the 20+ guys vying for Sam Frost’s attention. I’ll sit through hours of cringey group dates, read witty live tweets throughout the show and throw things at the TV when the wrong person gets a rose.
It’s just for the pure satisfaction of seeing how the whole shebang unfolds and if said person finds love in the end.
If you ask me who the contestants are a week after the finale, I’ll have no idea who you’re talking about - like some weird Bachelor amnesia.
So why do we get so emotionally invested in these strangers? We don’t know them, probably won’t ever know them, and, if we’re honest, don’t want to know them either. Experts refer to it as “escapism”.
After a tough day crunching numbers or whatever you do for a buck, who wouldn’t want to kick back and watch Laurina chuck a tantrum over dirty street pies?
And if you think you’re exempt because you only watch cooking shows, even Masterchef has one or two pretentious A-holes we love to hate.
The beauty is, we can watch it all unfold in the safety of our snuggie and microwaved dinner with the full knowledge our life will never be that intense, angst-ridden and dramatic (well, let’s hope not).
So you like watching a little bit of reality TV too? It really doesn’t mean you’re less intelligent. No honestly it doesn’t.
We all need to switch off every now and then and if your escape is getting lost in the ridiculousness of a suspiciously scripted reality TV show – that’s okay, isn’t it?
Just as long as you’re getting a healthy dose of real-life reality every now and then too.