Keep Calm, Trope On: Reality TV

We all have our favorite and least favorite tropes. From love triangles to slow burns, tropes are often the best ways to showcase great characters and storylines. They can also be frustrating and make you question why it is even a trope at all. In this bi-weekly column, we’ll take a deep dive into some of the most classic television tropes.

I’ve watched so much more reality television in the past couple of weeks than I’d care to admit. In fact, I’ve definitely lost some brain cells the past couple of months.

Before my latest binges, the only reality television I really ever watched regularly was The Bachelorette. From May to August, that show is my jam, and I would get completely obsessed. For whatever reason, The Bachelorette was the only reality television I could stand.

I have been a big follower of The Bachelorette for years. Every season my mom, sister and I would watch, and it sort of became a family tradition. But despite how much of a fan I was of The Bachelorette , I never was a fan of other shows in the franchise such as The Bachelor or Bachelor in Paradise.

Fast forward to today – I am completely engulfed in Peter Weber’s season of The Bachelor.

I wasn’t even a huge fan of him when he was announced as The Bachelor yet here I am. Hell, I loved Colton Underwood a lot more than I did Peter, and I never watched more than a couple of episodes of his season. Perhaps, I have just simply run out of quality television to watch that I have been left with watching mindless television for two hours every Monday. That, of course, wouldn’t explain why I have watched reality television show after reality television show.

In one of my latest columns, I talked about my love for Netflix’s reality sports show Cheer. Since then, I have not only continued watching Peter Weber’s season of The Bachelor, but have even begun re-watching old seasons of The Bachelor with my boyfriend. I’d like to think it’s more him wanting to watch it than me, but I think that’d be a lie. I’ve also binged the entire first season of Netflix’s The Circle and have eaten up every episode of Love is Blind (Thursday’s finale cannot come soon enough!)

Source: Netflix

My latest tryst into watching literally any reality show I can have got me thinking – what is it about reality television that has so many people captivated?

Honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s because watching someone else make really poor life decisions makes my life look golden. How can I be mad at myself when I’m not the one keeping Victoria F. through fantasy suites? I’m not the one getting engaged after never seeing a person and only talking to them for three days.

 It’s not even just watching these “trash” tv shows that give me joy. It’s being able to talk about it with my friends and coworkers. I can’t really talk about my random re-watch binges (this week it’s The Good Wife) because most people have no idea what I’m talking about. But the latest reality TV craze – that’s what it’s all about.

Both Love Is Blind and The Circle — both weird and complicated ideas — didn’t get me hooked until the second or third episode. It seemed as though the contestants of The Circle also really didn’t understand what exactly they were getting themselves into. But as they started to understand more – and as I started to understand more – an investment between me and those in the show began to form.

I started to feel like I was on The Circle as well, though, that may be because I, too, was secluded in a studio apartment.

I began to think of what I would do in that situation. Would I be myself or create a catfish profile to give me a boost in winning? While I loved Shooby in the beginning, his naive belief that everyone should always feel comfortable in being themselves began to rub me the wrong way. Not everyone is comfortable in their own skin and wants to put it on display to the rest of the world.

Perhaps, that’s why I admire reality television stars so much because once you choose to go on reality TV, your life will never be the same. That’s probably a good thing for people like The Bachelor‘s Hannah Ann.

As a hopeless romantic, I can’t help but love watching various love stories happen. While many tell me “it’s not real” and “it’s all doomed,” I still find myself completely captivated by them. Over three years later, I’m still obsessed with JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodger’s love story that I watched unfold during The Bachelorette. At the end of the day, I truly believe that some of these people find love. Of course – who wouldn’t fall in love with someone when going on romantic dates around the world.

That’s why Love Is Blind is such a fascinating concept because it took the superficial aspects of reality TV and flipped it on its head.

For those who don’t know – Love Is Blind takes a group of single men and women and has them date each other. What’s the catch you may ask? They never see what the other looks like. A brilliant idea when you think about it, but honestly, I think Netflix went about it the wrong way. Ever heard of infatuation?

When you talk with someone for over ten hours every day for three days straight, of course you’re going to develop strong feelings. Is it love? I wouldn’t be so sure. What’s more is that not only do they have to cram declarations of love within two weeks – they also have to get engaged and married by the end of the month. This show is completely wild. You have people getting engaged and saying they’re each other’s “best friend” with only knowing them for less than a week!

Maybe I have bad trust issues, but that just seems completely bonkers to me. Yet I cannot stop watching.

There is just something about these shows that have me wrapped around their finger. I am eagerly anticipating the finale of both The Bachelor and Love Is Blind. I’m holding on hope that The Circle will get a season two and that I can be cast in it. Whatever the formula is for all three of these popular reality TV shows, it’s working.  

Reality TV is my latest TV obsession. And I cannot wait until I find my next “trash tv show” to binge.

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