Friday, May 29, 2009

The Reality Of Unreality

I'm not a big fan of Reality Television.

I'll pause a moment and wait for you all to ready your rotten tomatoes to fling at me for what I am about to disclose.

I do not like Survivor. Dancing With The Stars bores me to tears. I have never in my life watched a single full episode of American Idol. Extreme Makeover - Home Edition has occasionally caught my interest, but usually only because I happened to be a captive audience on an elliptical machine at the gym. I do not watch Amazing Race, The Bachelor, or its feminine counterpart, The Bachelorette.

American Idol is so pervasive that some of it penetrates my perception. I know Kelly Clarkson won one of the contests. And one of the guys that was on it "came out" a few years ago much to nobody's surprise. But when my friends begin to bandy about names like Kris and Adam I get completely confused, until someone stops and patiently translates AI-speak to me. The only time my fingers might pause on the remote for a moment is to listen to a bit of Simon Cowell snarkiness. If there's one thing I appreciate it's snark. And he does it so well.

There is little to no reality in these shows. I mean come on. If those Survivor contestants were TRULY on that deserted island or swamp or desert or whatever locale they're sticking them in these days, with no modern conveniences or comforts of home, the girls would have armpits like men, dreadlocks on their legs, and those bikinis they regularly compete in would be sporting some untamed bushes.

While I generally don't participate in American Pop Reality Television Culture, I have a few guilty exceptions. I like Paranormal State even though some of the ghostly occurrences are a tiny bit staged, and Ryan narrating sotto voce is often more humorous than suspenseful. I also appreciate What Not to Wear (speaking of snark.....), and I've even been known to tolerate an evening with the Duggars.

But my true love of Reality TV has always been Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Jon & Kate Gosselin are experiencing some well publicized marital problems. It seems everyone has an opinion on this from their families, to former employers, right down to maintenance guys at the local Motel. Every single person that has ever passed them on the street has an opinion. There seems to be a growing movement of "Team Jon" or "Team Kate".

Just for fun I'm going to toss my hat into the ring and let everyone be entitled to my opinion also.

Does Kate come off as a shrew sometimes, reprimanding her husband as if he was one of her many children? Yes she does. Have I ever done the same thing? Absolutely. Are either one of us proud of it? No. She's stated this publicly.

Does Jon come off as lazy, clueless, or inattentive sometimes. Sure does. And I'll bet he's not real fond of some of his flaws either.

But the reality of their relationship is not what we see on television or in the tabloids. Remember a reality show isn't actually reality. If you saw them all day long going about normal business and nobody ever blew a gasket, or had a temper tantrum, or slammed a door, or walked away from a conversation, it would be a REALLY BORING SHOW. So what we see on television is carefully edited for maximum viewer retention.

Trailers that say, "Tune in for the next Jon & Kate Plus Eight, where we see Kate clip her toenails and Jon wash the van, and the kids all mull around looking in the refrigerator all day to see if something has grown there since last time," just don't pique the public interest.

As for the tabloids reporting Jon cheated, Kate cheated, he's done with the marriage, she spends all her time on the road - let me remind you of an old saying. Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes.

This is someone's real Mom & Dad. EIGHT someones. These are two real people that fell in love with each other, faults, farts, leaving the toilet seat up, compulsive organization and all - just like you or me. I suspect neither one suddenly developed a new personality since they took their vows. This is a real married couple having real marital problems. And those shoes I have walked in. And they hurt. It doesn't matter what he did or she did, it takes two to make or break a marriage. I've worn the shoes of the betrayed wife. And believe me, those ain't no Jimmy Choo's. But at the same time I cannot say I was 100% blameless in the break up of my marriage either.

All I can say is that in this case, there are Eight Little Faces behind the unreality of this reality show. For their sake, let's give this couple a break and hope they can work it out.

NOT on television. In reality. Where we don't see it.


Eileen, Founder, Organizer, Mayor and Chief Cook And Bottle Washer of the Anger Management Girls. said...

I don't know who in the hell they are and don't care. All I know about them is what I read in People magazine.
From what I've read, shame on them. Anyone who whores their kids out like they did really aren't worth much as parents.
I have a big problem these people who have these multiple births then whore their kids out to pay for them. Can't afford 8 kids? Don't have them.

tbsomeday said...

Very good post and points mb.
I have watched snippets of shows here and there so I am not crushed by the news like other devoted jon and katers are, just sad for the kids and the situation in general. Of course, it's happening all over the country-they just happend to be paid and brodcasted while their lives fall to pieces.

katiebear said...

i really like the show... for the entertainment value of silly things kids do, and to see that other couples have their faults as well, not just me or my husband.

however, if they are having such big problems, then stop the show. they obviously don't need the handouts anymore. it is breaking apart their family and family comes first. she needs to stop book tours and they need to spend much time AWAY from cameras and focus on remembering who they are as people, wive and husband, and parents. i hope they can find their way soon.

oooh, if you are looking for something to kill time, search facebook for kate gosselin... see how many groups appear? some of them are REALLY anti kate!! its amusing, but i feel bad for her. yeah she's a bossy biotch sometimes, but she sort of has to be with that many children!

Alicia said...

Hey found you on SITS...I'm a fan of their show but I feel the media has just exploited the situation... hopefully they just do whats best for the children whether or not their marriage works out... people need to just worry about their own marriages and not focus so much on the faults of others.

Norkio said...

Gee Eileen, tell us what you really think!