Thanks to reality TV, we’ve seen the Kardashian and Jenner sisters go through major life milestones. Picture: Instagram
Thanks to reality TV, we’ve seen the Kardashian and Jenner sisters go through major life milestones. Picture: Instagram

Our reality TV hierarchy is a lie

Someone recently asked me if I'd watched the latest series of The Bachelorette.

"No," I said firmly, "it's not my thing."

The truth is, I've tried twice, but it left me bored and about 25 per cent angrier about the state of the world. It felt good to have a solid stance, regardless of how inconsequential the subject. Although, as I throw around the word "inconsequential" I'm being a bit flippant about reality TV.

Once upon a time, reality was a new genre which quickly became seen as a destructive force to scripted television and film acting, as well as the livelihood of actors. It was largely dismissed as having little significance.

But in the last decade or so, these reality TV juggernauts appear to descend over our TVs and consciousness like an alien ship in a scene from Independence Day. And audiences follow, with hundreds of thousands of previously normal, seemingly intelligent men and women transfixed by TV screens, unable to look away as the alien life forms - sorry, reality TV contestants - seem to spill out of an extraterrestrial spacecraft and into view.

With reality TV now, you're obliged to take a position; are you in, or are you out? But is that question even fair? We're living in an era full of pointless, bizarre, creepy, hilarious, heartwarming, gross and often, highly addictive shows hovering around like alien spaceships, no matter what channel you're on.

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there’s a reality show out there for all of us. Picture: Channel 10
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there’s a reality show out there for all of us. Picture: Channel 10

I'm ludicrously hypocritical about reality TV too. While I turn my nose up at The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, treating it like the KFC of TV, I'm secretly gorging on my own TV junk food like a secret stash of McDonalds, and I'll defend those shows like a junkie on crack.

I will steal time away from loved ones, turn my back on a nice day (every now and then. OK, yesterday), to get a hit from my reality TV bong.

I even surprise myself how I can defend my shows til the sun goes down.

Take the "OG of reality", Keeping up with the Kardashians.

At this point, you'll have either already rolled your eyes back in your head hard removing all traces of your pupils, or you'll have just lurched your head approximately two millimetres closer to the screen.

The show focuses on the women in the family - along with a few men of lesser importance on screen - who have been entertaining and tormenting us since 2007. I watched it during the early days, then stopped.

I wanted nothing to do them, until they hooked me like a flathead with a promo that mentioned the death of their father. I started watching again, and what appealed to me was to how the death of the most significant man in their lives had affected and shaped the three Kardashian girls and their brother Rob. I watched with curiosity and empathy to the profound way I felt it was affecting each of their lives.

 

The pain and fear of loss that the four of them had endured, became my psychological attraction to the show. It was the thread I could see which wove through all their love and relationships dramas.

More recently, after another long break, I came back to find out how they were building their businesses and their personal branding. Not because I'm interested in their fame, but because I'm curious about the business of growing "tribes."

I fell into another reality trap years ago, when I discovered The Real Housewives of New York. Followed by The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and the shows set in Orange County, New Jersey and Cheshire. It was the New York version that got me.

Initially, it may have been the need to fill the gaping hole left by Sex and the City but again, I became entranced by another "OG": Bethenny Frankel.

In the early days of the series, Bethenny was a single woman with ferocious daddy issues (not that I relate at all …), and despite the show's name, was not living on the financial spoils of a rich husband.

As the series progressed, she went on to build a multimillion-dollar alcohol empire. As the money rolled in, so too did a man that appeared to be her knight in shining armour.

Real Housewives is considered one the “OG” reality shows out there, and for good reason. Picture: supplied
Real Housewives is considered one the “OG” reality shows out there, and for good reason. Picture: supplied

They married but as hard as she appeared to try (although I was biased as buggery by then), the relationship went catastrophically pear-shaped. The constant question plaguing her was how much was her daddy issues and hardened heart destroying their love. Or had she simply attracted a man who appeared to be her "saviour" but as her success skyrocketed, so too did his "small town" fears of her "big town" life and success. For me, the show that appeared to be about grown women fighting like nasty little girls dragging down the entire feminist movement held way more layers than what was on the surface.

I've had a new reality TV discovery recently; a show set in Las Vegas that follows the lives of a gaggle of gigolos. Male escorts. The show's called Gigolos. I'm not proud of the hours I've lost to this show but at the 14 episode mark, I realised there's more to my deep obsession with the show than my pathetic, shallow attraction to two of the "cast" - who happen to be ridiculously hot.

The reality of my addiction is that I am sexually repressed. Not a joke, just my reality. But that's probably for another day, and perhaps, another timeslot.

@pettyamber



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