How Real is Reality TV?

Reality TV usually gets consumed by people looking to, ironically, tune out and veg out. It’s about watching messy drama unfold and be glad that you get to watch it happen, rather than being the one it happens to.

And the ironic thing about reality TV is that it gets deemed as fake.

Fake because it’s obvious the producers forced an incident to happen. Fake because the participants are only on there to gain followers on social media and to start their influencing career. Fake because editing causes us not to get to watch the whole story unfold.

However, I’d argue that consequences are real for the participants and the themes (yes, reality TV has themes) are taken from society itself.

A prime example is The Bachelor franchise.

In the course of a Bachelor/Bachelorette season, there is aways someone edited to be the “villain”. Within the show, the “villain” suffers the consequence of being sent home, however they also suffer the backlash from viewers on social media.

But you don’t even have to get the villain edit to be affected by the show on social media by fans of the show. You just have to be person of color. And if you’re a person of color who also gets a villain edit, well then the consequences are even worse.

Furthermore, The Bachelor explores themes we actually experience in society. Of course, the show shows us a journey to find love, so it covers themes about marriage and relationships. It explores the social constructs of what makes a “good” wife and what a heterosexual relationship should look like. There are ideas about what makes someone “ready” or “qualified” for marriage

But we can also learn about how the patriarchy and racism are harmful in society from The Bachelor. We watch how women get pitted against one another for the affections of one man. We see how people of color continue to get ignored and/or stereotyped.

The Bachelor franchise, or any reality show, doesn’t have the ability to solve all of society’s problems, but it does have a responsibility to make an effort to spread inclusive and progressive messages. Additionally, viewers tend to take the idea of reality TV being “fake” too far and treat participants like they’re not real people with real feelings.

And sure, what we see go down on these episodes of reality can be heavily produced. But these ideas are not just made up by the TV gods or syphoned from the void. TV is a reflection of society and society likes to watch TV and reenact what it sees. It’s been proven that it directly affects those who go on the show. On a broader scope, it will, and does affect the rest of us.

So how real is reality TV? It’s pretty real, in my opinion.

Have You Seen Your Yoni?

I love a good dating show, even though I tend to judge them a little (a lot) before I inevitably get into them (and love them). Bonus if they make me think… and boy, was I surprised when Too Hot to Handle, Netflix’s latest reality TV dating show, got my brain working.

The premise of Too Hot to Handle is a group of extremely hot and horny 20-somethings all find themselves on a secluded resort just for them and they can’t do any kind of sexual act or even kiss. They must try to use as much self control as they can in order to walk away with the grand prize of $100,000.

The underlying point of the show is to force the contestants to make a connection that goes beyond just looks. They also go through a few self development workshops in order for them to grow as individuals.

It’s easy to sit back and judge these people for only being focused on looks and who they’re going to bed with. Some of them even admit to not being smart and brag about how many people they’ve slept with.

Trust me when I say, I was surprise to find myself going, “Awwwww” towards the end when the contestants made either a personal breakthrough or a genuine connection with someone else.

But I have to admit, I do admire them for owning their sexuality.

That’s something I’ve struggled with even before my first time. It was hard to think of myself as sexy. And as far as I was concerned, anything that went on down there wasn’t my business, it was God’s. (Something I picked up subconsciously from 9 years of Catholic school and eventually shed in my 20s).

On the show, one of the self development workshops the women participated in was called Yoni Puja. They were going to be looking at their own yoni (vagina in Sanskrit) with a mirror in order to develop a connection with it and appreciate it.

As proclaimed sexual women, I was surprised when many of those women said they hadn’t seen their own vagina before. Many of them realized how special their vagina was and would think twice in the future about who they would let “in” to it. They also learned that all vaginas look different and that’s normal.

Now, prior to seeing this show, I’ve taken a mirror to my own yoni a couple times to get to know it and take ownership of it. (Not from a Yoni Puja workshop but directed by Emily Nagoski, author of Come As You Are, which I highly recommend for all women and men.)

My takeaway from that was similar to the women of the show – my vagina is unique and that’s normal. This is my own to explore and find out what feels good. And yes, I am a sexual person and I’m allowed to be one.

It might seem like those women got more of a restricted lesson (don’t have sex with just anybody) and I received a more freeing lesson (you are sex).

But maybe we received the same lesson: women are amazing and we deserve to own who we are and what makes us who we are. Taking stock of our power is a way of self respect and we need that in order us to recognize we deserve respect from others.

So yeah, as you can see, I really liked the show and found myself rooting for the contestants and their growth. And for my fellow ladies out there, maybe try taking a mirror to your own yoni. Maybe it’ll make you feel some type of way, maybe it won’t. But we could all do with a good feeling of empowerment once in awhile.