#1 TV show, Monday, 8/1/16
8.57 million viewers
I am not and have never been a reality TV viewer, mainly because I’ve never found a way to engage with it that doesn’t seem degrading on one level or another. The first and most obvious problem with it is that it’s thoroughly fake; I have an actor friend who appeared as a bumbling assistant on a cooking reality show, and he was cast and instructed throughout the whole process as though he were playing a fictional character, which, basically, he was. I think a lot of people would argue that most reality TV fans, like most fans of pro wrestling, know that the shows are fake, that they’re not so gullible as to think they’re watching some kind of authentic documentary. But that leads to a seemingly widespread and even more problematic form of viewership, which is that a lot of people “hate-watch” reality TV, mocking the shows and their subjects as though the producers aren’t anticipating and seeking that very reaction, or care whether their advertising dollars are earned ironically are not. It’s like when people make fun of the Sharknado movies; you think you’re above them, but you’re actually meeting them exactly where they want you. So I’ve never been made aware of a way to watch reality TV without somehow getting duped.
But the whole point of this blog is to explore media that I’d normally ignore or even look down on, and this Bachelorette season finale, in which the titular JoJo must make her final choice between two pretty much identical suitors, is part of that process. So even though I generally found this depiction of the weirdly performative courtship rituals of overly coiffed basics about as grotesque as I expected, I will note that there was one moment that caught my attention: When Hunk #2 is telling JoJo about their theoretical married life together, he mentions something about sitting on a couch while meatloaf starts to burn in the kitchen, which prompts JoJo to say, “Ma! The meatloaf!” You know, like Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers. It’s exactly the sort of reference a bubbly twentysomething girl would make, and yet it’s so specific that I’d never expect it to show up in a scripted show. So maybe that’s part of the appeal of reality TV: It is basically fictional, but its pretense of realism forces or even inadvertently causes it to sometimes present its theatrics via more truthfully textured behavior then we usually get from shows that are overtly made up.
Still seemed pretty stupid, though.