Can I be frank?
I really wish the reality revolution would just hurry up and be done already. Something tells me that I’m not alone. Just last week, a collective sigh of relief spread across Facebook when a cleverly-worded link had many folks (present company included) believing that a certain show – think “kinda/sorta (but then again, not really) sports-affiliated mean girls” – was getting the ax. It was like a cyberspace version of “the wave,” but sadly, the good vibes only lasted for a few. Long story short, the “end” that many hoped they were reading about was actually related to the conclusion of the current season of the show, not the entire series.
As an entertainment reporter, it’s my job to stay on top of what’s trending, who’s filming or recording and which projects are bubbling. That being said, I cannot bring myself to tune in to any more of the trumped-up drama that’s being played out on these reality shows, ‘scripted’ or otherwise. I’ve seen enough. Oh, and to be clear, I’m no television snob. I am just as likely to be glued to the latest episodes of Scandal and Mad Men as I am to be watching back-to-back reruns of The People’s Court (I’ve learned a lot from Judge Milian!) or weekend marathons of Lockup, which are the ultimate wear-out. What I won’t do, however, is subject myself to the screaming matches and wild-outs that go down on reality shows. Not anymore. I simply can’t do it.
I understand that everyone has different tastes and viewing habits. I also understand that for some people, watching reality programming offers an escape from their reality. But between the "Twitter beefs" and the name-calling and high-school-esque bullying, it seems like things have completely spiraled out of control. And whenever I think that the level of nonsense couldn’t possibly dip any further, I am reminded that things can always get worse.
Once upon a time, being on television was a privilege, one which required some level of talent or skill – something! Nowadays, we’ve got grown people acting a fool on the small screen and being rewarded for their buffoonery with magazine cover stories, chat-fest invitations, two-part reunion specials and even spin-off shows and book deals. I don’t mean to knock anybody’s hustle, but the bar is sitting below sea level at this point. It almost feels like a free-for-all. Or maybe it’s more like a free-fall. As a viewer, and a consumer, I deserve better.
So, as the next round of exes, baby mommas, long-time fiancées and former actresses/models/strippers from "Whatever City USA" get prepped for their reality debuts this summer, I can only hope that they won’t exploit and embarrass themselves like their predecessors. Who knows if they’ll be able to contain themselves, but it doesn’t really matter to me because I won’t be watching anyway.
Regina R. Robertson is West Coast Editor for ESSENCE. Follow her on twitter @reginarobertson.