The Reality of a Second Season

Before I begin, let me admit that reality television is one of my guiltiest pleasures. I watch way too much MTV for my own good, and while I find myself poking fun at a lot of what I see on television, I also find myself continuing to tune in every week.

Nevertheless, as the original Teen Mom cast (first seen on 16 and Pregnant) films its third and final season, and the stars of Jersey Shore relocate to Italy to shoot a fourth season, I begin to question the producers’ decisions to continue a reality show cast past its first season. Yes, they are attracting plenty of viewers, but the shows no longer serve their original purposes.

For example, on 16 and Pregnant and the first season of Teen Mom, we are introduced to a group of girls who had children when they were young, and then we watch the struggles they face as teen mothers. By the second season, the girls have become somewhat of celebrities, and now, as the third season is being filmed, we begin to see the faces of Amber, Maci, Farrah and Catelynn on the covers of tabloids and on the front pages of our favorite celebrity gossip sites. They may talk about their financial problems on the show, but after being paid for several seasons and appearances, how can we really believe that? The show depicts these girls as normal teenagers, but at the same time they are followed by paparazzi and treated as celebrities.

Of course, after three seasons of Jersey Shore, who wouldn’t be able to recognize The Situation from a mile away? In the first season, the characters (I know they are “real” people, but I consider them characters) are just seven strangers with penchants for fake tans and drinking, and the people they meet have no real preconceived notions about them. Now, on the third season, you’d better believe that the girls that Mike, Vinny and Pauly bring home are only there because they know who Mike, Vinny and Pauly are. Snooki may lead you to believe that she is about to find the Guido of her dreams, but in truth she will never find someone who doesn’t know her already for her poof and her love of pickles.

When reality shows go on for longer than a season, they no longer serve their original purpose, and strangers’ reactions to the cast members are skewed by what they already knew about them from television. Instead, they become a place for fans to recognize inside jokes and feel like a part of the cast themselves, regardless of how “accurate” the depiction really is.

The Friday Five: Lessons Learned From Reality TV

As we begin to approach the weekend, I have decided to try a new feature on this blog: The Friday Five. Every Friday (or at least every Friday that I have access to a computer!), I will compile a Top 5 list that is either pertinent to my life or just something that needs to be said. 🙂 Without further ado…

The Friday Five: Lessons Learned From Reality TV

1. If you run into an ex-boyfriend at the Shore, your best bet is to go dancing on the boardwalk. (Jersey Shore)

It doesn’t matter if he’s armed with his group of friends and you’re all by yourself with no one really dancing with you for long. It doesn’t matter if it’s broad daylight and you’re completely sober. It doesn’t even matter if everyone is laughing at you. Because, for Snooki, a dance on the boardwalk is a completely acceptable way to show an ex you just don’t care (even if you do). And let’s face it… if we can learn poise from anyone, it’s the cast of Jersey Shore.

*

2.  When armed with two (or three) alternatives to choose from, always take the worst. (Parental Control)

You’ve been dating Kevin Federline for a year and a half, and your parents can’t stand him (in fact, the three exchange not-so-witty banter in your living room on a regular basis!), so you go on Parental Control, where your parents set up dates (on camera) for you with Brad Pitt and Adam Brody. You allow each date to ridicule K Fed and you laugh right along with them, admitting to the camera that he doesn’t always make you happy. In the end, you decide that you admire Brad’s humanitarian efforts and suave ways, that you’re enamored with Adam’s dorky-cute personality, and that although both guys have more of the qualities you seek in a boyfriend, you will continue to date K Fed because you’ve been together for a while. And what does this teach us? In every relationship, longevity trumps happiness.

*

3. Classiness is in the eye of the beholder. (Flavor of Love)

When competing for the heart of the famed Flavor Flav, one must always remember that it’s totally okay to fight tooth and nail with the other girls, and that getting completely hammered right before an elimination is actually quite advisable. Just don’t lie to Flav about your body measurements, past experience on reality TV and game shows, or your reasons for being there (although, truth be told, everyone else is there for those same fifteen minutes of fame… that’s what Flav’s clocks are for). Keep your friends in the house close and New York even closer.

*

4. If you’re not in everyone else’s face, then you’re completely fake. (America’s Next Top Model)

I’ve blogged about this before, but one of the more common themes of ANTM seems to be the schism between the Extremely Outspoken and the Fake. If you need an example for how best to act around others, just take it from Angelea by letting people know (very obviously… exaggeration is good!) how bad of a mood you are in, by calling people out for not arguing with you, and by turning on your best friends when they are starting to outshine you. You cannot let anyone forget about you for one minute!

*

5. The clothes define the man. (Keeping Up With The Kardashians)

Well, maybe not always, but in Scott Disick’s case, they certainly do. In his case, what you see is what you get… in other words, if it walks like a jerk, talks like a jerk, and dresses like a jerk, then it probably is a jerk. Poor Kourtney Kardashian really picked the cream of the crop here, matching pink tie and all. Scott Disick has taught me that I will probably never date a guy whose wardrobe consists mainly of sweater vests (nor will I date a guy who ties his sweater around his neck). This has to be some kind of evolutionary tip-off. Thanks, Scott!