» Reality TV and Me

I love the arts, so please allow me to express myself in this arena as well.

I finally realized why certain reality TV shows are so engrossing.

The directors/writers have cleverly constructed two shows in one – one is the narrative story, which progresses from event to event. But the other (much juicier) show is the personal narrative of “what I am really thinking and feeling” behind the mask of civilized behavior.

This theatrical technique is as old as the hills. I assume the Greeks used it, Shakespeare certainly did (most famously in Hamlet), and in Strange Interlude, so did Eugene O’Neil.

In our society, when others are around, we often judge that we can’t say what’s on our mind or express how we feel about what’s going on in our lives. We edit ourselves. We even deny our actual feelings when perceptive people are direct in asking us about them. (No, I am NOT angry!)

Feelings are as central and as essential as our blood and tissue. But as we grow up, go to school, and are ‘socialized,’ rationality becomes prized above all else. In most social circles, restraint and decorum are not far behind.

Then, low and behold, leave it to the ever-so-polite and often repressed British to invent reality TV shows, where a real-life cast of characters are given an opportunity to scrap their socialized behavior and let their genuine feelings — outrage, hurt, humiliation —  ring out.

Our society could use a lot more transparency, and perhaps reality TV shows will foster it. Wouldn’t it be grand if our relationships and interactions were so transparent that reality TV shows faded into pale intimations of real life?