There are bigger things going on in the world. Serious issues, world hunger, the occupation of Palestine, the recovering economy, the IMF scandal and you wouldn’t be wasting a perfectly good Monday night watching the premiere of a modern Italian-American melodrama enfold…but you did. Its o.k., don’t feel bad because you’re not alone.
I can’t resist the urge of a perfectly good reality show, especially when it involves family feuds, a few brawls and some name calling (eh, maybe it’s the Philly in me). There is something about the show that calls out to millions of Americans. It could be the elaborate lifestyles these families live (symbolizing the American Dream of material wealth); it could be the dysfunctional family ties that exist (echoing some unresolved issues in our own personal lives) or, it could be the fact that true friends are hard to come across (more of a reason to cherish those you know will have your back when times are tough)?
1. The American Dream
Every American wants to believe the American Dream is still alive. When you see someone living in a plush home, with fancy cars and lots of bling – paid for by lots of hard work, it gives hope. It is the hope that if you work hard enough, you can have that too. It’s all within your reach if you just work a little more and keep the fire in your belly ignited. This is especially relevant in a recovering economy when people are struggling, inflation is raising and people are tired. This hope maintains sanity.
2. Dysfunctional Families
Know any? Whether you know of such from afar or maybe you belong to one, you’ve probably experienced too all the drama such a family entails. Are you obligated to love someone because they are from the same mother, father, or just because they have the same last name? Is that the criteria for “family”? No, it’s not. Family is more than just blood. Family is about shared experiences, it’s about loving each other unconditionally regardless of mistakes, failures or successes. It’s about knowing you will always be a cherished member of a super special social network. If this doesn’t exist than having this sense of empty loyalty is an unnecessary burden.
3. Best Friends Forever!
Going through the drama of a dysfunctional family makes having a special group of friends around even more important. This is why when Teresa says that Jaqueline and Caroline are her “family”, she means it. She means that these are her girls, they may not have the same blood line but they have her back when times get tough and she can count on them. It’s a pretty nice feeling, and this is what family is all about.
So go ahead, tell your co-workers you watched the premiere of the Desperate Housewives of NJ. Yes, you know there are bigger things going on in the world but you can also tell them there are deeper things going on here too!
Did I leave something out? Why do you think millions of Americans are addicted to reality TV?
I wouldn’t just “blame” Americans. We at this side of the world are just as addicted to television and reality shows. Maybe the thought of seeing others in trouble gives us some kind of sadistic pleasure or reassurance that yes, others have just as miserable lives!
Reality TV has become an addiction the world over and it gives us the weekly / daily joy of watching a mini movie.
A very interesting post!
Hi Hajra – By no means am I blaming Americans, I’m just fascinated by how reality TV has absorbed our energy and attention in the way that it has, not only in the US but abroad as well. In a way, I agree that it may be a release to the thought that people have it worse, or better, than ourselves…it’s interesting to watch. However, I would be careful of too much reality TV, a time drain for sure! I’m for living life as opposed to watching others live their lives. 🙂
I didn’t watch it, and will try to continue to resist! But I definitely think you have hit on three of the reasons why reality TV has become such a worldwide obsession. I also think that (sadly) our obsession with reality TV is tied up with our obsession with fame and celebrity. We build up these people to knock them down again, just like we do with every other celebrity. I’ve decided to try and avoid the next crop of shows. If I crave reality, maybe I’ll go out and find some, in the real world 🙂
I’m an optimist at heart Karen, and I hope that people don’t build these characters up just to watch them fall. I know, it may be naive, but I would rather think people are bored with their own lives and they just need a distraction from their own reality. Hopefully, this is just a phase and the world will grow out of it. Like you said, it’s much better to get out there and live your own life!