Living in Reality (TV)

I was caught unawares yesterday by a couple (friends of my roommates) who came by to watch the season finale of The Bachelorette. They had to watch it here since they didn’t have cable at their house. I’m not a big fan of the show, but I joined them out of hospitality.

I admit, the show is actually quite entertaining. A part of me is certain that some of it is cleverly scripted to build drama and intrigue, and the execs definitely know how to sell it to the viewers. But something about the show never sat well with me. The idea of one girl or guy trying to find their perfect “one” in a matter of a few weeks, by dating 25 others simultaneously, all as it is being filmed and heavily edited and aired on national TV. It feeds the whole Disney idea of romance and falling in love that is at the very best untested, and at the very worst, shallow and fabricated.

A good girlfriend of mine called me yesterday night in the middle of the 2-hour special. She called me right as Ali was deciding about whether to move forward with Chris the straight-shooter or Roberto the suave Latino hot-shot. I let it ring twice. I was tempted to choose reality TV over reality, but I had to pick up.

My friend wanted to talk about her very own real life “bachelorette” situation. She talked about how she was interested in a guy who was taking his sweet ol’ time, moving forward at a snail-like pace. She related how she was considering him, even in spite of his slowness and lack of charm, because he was a man of character. And she went on about his potential of being both a great husband and father. But in the end, they decided to remain friends. Though it didn’t work out, I was impressed because they both conducted themselves honestly and honorably.

I couldn’t help but contrast the difference between what I had heard over the phone and what I was seeing unraveling on TV. The whole concept of love and how to go about finding it has become so defiantly twisted by the media and Hollywood. We’re now raising a generation that believes that Prince Charming, with his chiseled abs and sugar dimples, will come in on a boat in Tahiti to sweep and carry the girl off to the land of Happily Ever After. Love is reduced to two good-looking people isolated from the rest of the world on a fantasy island to explore each other’s personalities and bodies.

There is no talk of sacrifice. No talk of character. No talk of commitment (at least nothing beyond a fat Neil Lane diamond). And there is no talk of the reality of “working at it.”

That is the reality of love. And that is the reality no one wants to sell.

I hope our generation doesn’t buy into the hype. It is not real, and if we do, we will sorely be disappointed. Let’s live our lives in the real world and not on reality TV.

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6 responses to “Living in Reality (TV)

  1. In fairness, I would argue that very few people look to shows like The Bachelorette for anything other than mere entertainment/shock value. That would also explain why people watch even crazier reality shows, like Flavor of Love or Jersey Shore.

    I agree that the media has glamorized and twisted the concept of love, but that is something that is certainly not new to this generation – sappy love songs and “happily ever after” romantic films have been around since time immemorial.

    • Fair enough. The concept isn’t new, I agree. It has always existed in stories and movies and fairy tales. But it hasn’t been spawn off as “reality TV” until the dawn of this century, and that’s the underlying premise of my rant.

      • Yeah I hear you, definitely. It’s probably the residual left in me from my law school days, but I guess I just like playing the devil’s advocate in any discussion. I hope I’m not coming off as some pompous jerk. I just like the back and forth going on here.

        I still do believe, though, that reality tv doesn’t quite have any significant influence in the lives of most people, at least not to the extent that other forms of media have. People watch reality tv shows because they’re so bizarre and over the top. To take even “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” as examples, it’s common knowledge that most of the relationships established on those shows never work out for longer than a few months after the show is off the air.

  2. I’m glad to know that they finally came to a conclusion. 🙂 And when I think about it, it’s how things should be. Honest. Honorable. Authentic.

    It’s easy to get charmed by a person’s charisma, but I’ve found nothing to lack more substance. I’ll be candid—my boyfriend isn’t anything near charming, but his character is what I fell in love with. At the end, character defines. Character builds. And character is what Jesus looks at.

  3. Hi martin!

    You don’t know me but I’m your sis’ friend and I stumbled upon your blog one day. i truly get so encouraged and inspired by your words and glad to see you back! write on!

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