Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Not So Secret Obsession

I am a reality television addict.  I have seen many intelligent people knock this television trend.  I know how much everyone hates it.  I just don’t care. 

It’s my love.  If not everyone gets it, that’s okay.  I don’t fuss about all the scripted programming I hate.  Two And A Half Men was more of a docudrama about Sheen, watching it was painful.  Without him, the show dynamics changed Allen’s character so much it went from slightly tolerable to horrible.  I still won’t bash you for loving it. 

 I love the trashy, gritty reality television.  I adore Celebrity Apprentice, Survivor, Honey Boo Boo, and even more recently Pretty Wicked Moms.  There is one show though that dominates my summer.  I watch it three times a week.  I always break down and buy the live feeds to watch it when nothing else is on, I’m bored, or I should be writing.   That’s Big Brother.  For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a social experiment based reality television game show.  It puts strangers in a house, locks them up, and says live with each other.

Then it throws twists into the game all summer long.  Like you can’t eat this week you’re a have not on slop (some protein based mix).  As a have not you also take cold showers.  They change the have not beds every summer.  This year they are sleeping in airplane style chairs.  Each week someone will win the coveted head of household and nominate two house guests for eviction.  Each week someone will be evicted.  

So my summer productivity is hampered some.  Sometimes it pushes me to stay up and work on writing so I can treat myself to a quick feed check in.  Believe it or not, I’m not a constant feed watcher.  They can get pretty boring.  I just like to have them for the flashback features of the fights they don’t always air on television and watching the endurance competitions.  

As everyone whines and groans about my constant obsession with Big Brother or reality television in general, I’ve forced myself through out the past ten years to look at what I like about it.   Most writers will say they watch people, and reality television gives us a chance to watch people being put in situations out of their element.  Even Honey Boo Boo who is in her element is being put outside of the families comfort zone when they gained such popularity on television.  So will it change them?  Has it affected them? 

Why does someone hoard so much stuff they can’t use their bathrooms?  Or lose track of how many animals actually live in their home?   What makes someone stay loyal to an alliance of strangers or break that alliance?  I don’t just watch reality television I try to dissect it.  I try to learn from it.   I try to figure out what the underlying motivations are.  How that person really is.  In scripted reality television it’s a little different but I think this is why I buy feeds so I see what goes on in the Big Brother house before they edit it.  Before they choose how they will portray a particular house guest.

I take these observations and file them in the back of my mind.  When I sit down to write an interesting character or side character I do the same thing.  I ask the same questions about their motivations.  Except so far I haven’t had to encounter how they found twenty dead cats in their closet.  I try to figure out what makes a character tick.  What kind of person are they?  I try to examine their flaws with their perfections.  As a reader, I want to read about these fleshed out normal characters.  Not the perfect super hero.   Not the perfect beauty queen.  I want the imperfect.  I want the struggles.  I want the growth that comes when they grow from the experiences I throw them in. 

In short, yes I’m a reality television addict.  I will always love the uncensored things people say in the heat of a moment.  I will always love watching how people form bonds.  I will always love watching the fighting and drama.  Then I will take all the things I love from reality television, all the things I observe, all the things I learn, and wrap them all up into constantly striving to build the best characters I can in my writing.  

Shhh... off to sneak in a little feed time and try to figure out why people can't wait for Mama June's cookbook.


  1. Awesome Post! I don't watch those kinds of reality TV, but my sister loves big brother. She says its entertaining to watch people fight over stupid stuff. I like the 'game' shows, like 72 Hours, Hero, etc. where the people have a goal to accomplish and must work in teams.

    1. It can be really entertaining I think I love the drama of reality television. I know it isn't for everyone but I am hooked. I don't think I've heard of 72 hours.


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