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Real-Life TV

More than 10 million viewers tuned in to watch the sniping, sippy-cup-surrounded Gosselins announce their separation last week on Jon and Kate Plus 8. I was not one of them.

Chronicling life in a house teeming with twins and sextuplets, the show holds no interest for me. It might as well be called Your Life, Only Worse.

I don’t like television that depicts normal people slogging through the challenges of daily existence. It doesn’t take me anywhere I fantasize about, doesn’t tap into that daydreamy place in my heavily subdued subconscious. For that, there’s American Idol, whose plucked-from-obscurity premise fuels my fervent secret desire to be a powerhouse chanteuse who can inject irresistible effervescence into doo-wop week, disco week, and everything in between.

There, I said it.

Many of us claim to hate the vast actorless landscape of “reality TV” even as we’re privately — religiously — watching one of its unscripted series. Weekly, we track the lofty goals, questionable choices, and predictable disappointments of strangers who would wallpaper the nation’s flat screens with their greatest flaws and failings.

Here’s what I believe: You can tell a lot about someone by the reality show she watches. So I’ve created this handy viewers’ guide — What Your Reality Show Says About You.

So You Think You Can Dance: You have a strong work ethic and believe Herculean — rather, Gene Kellean — effort should be rewarded. The time you felt most alive was shaking your groove thing to “Lady Marmalade” at your brother’s wedding.

What Not to Wear: You’re smart. You’re savvy. And regardless of the situation, you usually know best. Which is why you love to watch experts come in and explain what the hell is wrong with everyone else.

The Biggest Loser: You’ve always been one to root for the underdog — and to cry when things get sappy. Go Helen! Sniff!

Top Chef, Top Design: You dream of a reality show that would test the top performers in your profession. Top School Administrator? Top Computer Programmer? Yeah, you’d show those lackeys what’s what.

Deadliest Catch or Wipeout: You always — always — slow down to get a good look at the car wreck on the freeway.

America’s Next Top Model: You freely admit it: You miss high school. Being a grown-up bites, and it’s been far too long since you told someone she looked like a “walrus wearing chiffon” or quipped, “The bitch poured beer on my weave.” Good times, good times.

Survivor or The Apprentice: You could solve the world’s problems if only someone would bother to ask you. You are cool under pressure, have no patience for wimps, and could almost certainly make fire from what’s rolling around on the floor of your car right now.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians or The Real Housewives of Anywhere: You’re not rich; you’re rich-curious. You spend weekends popping into Montecito open houses — with no intention or ability to buy — just to see how the beautiful people live.

Wife Swap or Supernanny: You do your best. But you’re not perfect. And on days when you come up extra short, it helps to be reminded that there are worse spouses and parents out there. Way worse. Good god, you ROCK!

The Bachelor/Bachelorette: You’re a hopeless romantic who is buoyed weekly by the certainty that if that collagen-stuffed skank with the back tattoo can land a lover, then surely anyone can.

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My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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