Trash TV: A Desirable Imaginary Reality

Everyone has a guilty-pleasure TV show. We all adore the 45 minutes of brain-melting stupidity that unfolds on the screen as we nod off to sleep in the absurd hours of the night. It’s a mental break from school, work, and you know, the world.

Guilty pleasure shows mostly are reality television. Trash TV includes Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the fifteen million Bachelor spin-offs, and everything that is on The Learning Channel (yes, that is what TLC is actually called).

Trash TV is almost mind-numbingly stupid and sometimes make you feel you are literally losing brain cells. Occasionally, you lose complete hope in humanity. You keep thinking to yourself: Why am I still watching this? Then, you snuggle up and play the next episode anyways.

Reality TV is an outlet for imagination. Let’s face it, the characters – and I mean characters – on these shows, experience things that most people won’t get the chance to experience in their own lives. Sometimes it’s a reality television competition: an opportunity to feel the adrenaline rush of showing off your talent (even if you have none). Sometimes, it’s as simple as watching rich people be rich. It’s also fun to really dive into someone else’s life – to be the couch critic of their decisions. Fanaticism is no new thing and reality television has made it so much easier for the average person to invest themselves into someone else’s life.

Now, let’s look at another side of reality television – the kind that romanticizes real-life and can make you feel like you’re vicariously living through a fairy tale. The best example of this is The Bachelor. The show advertises this quick, sweeping romance to find your soulmate. This is not realistic expectation for anyone in the dating world, The Bachelor itself only has an 11% success rate. However, this is a desirable “journey” that people want to experience. Producers can distort what really happens in editing and all their clever producer tricks. Audiences aren’t stupid. They know that it’s all fake. Still, for many viewers, reality television is the closest that they’ll get to the whirlwind romances popularized by Hollywood’s rom-coms.

Sometimes, viewers can even enjoy the producers’ manipulation. There are shows that let you watch people getting pimples popped and park rangers finding out who shot a deer illegally. For graphically disgusting shows, trash TV is able to present these gross images in a way that makes users so curious and so disgusted that they can’t stop watching even though they want to to anything but. This is an exhilarating feeling.

Trash TV is manufactured stories with real people on a low budget. This time-tested formula requires a relatively low-budget production but results in high profits.

Some people are criticized for the shows they watch. The stars are putting on an act. They just want enough clout in order to become a social media influencer. Producers manipulate what viewers see. It’s all fake. It’s all stupid. Who cares? The point is most TV (with the exception of some programs meant to educate) is to entertain. Watch it and enjoy it. Turn your mind off for a while. You don’t need to be ashamed of it… Everyone has a guilty pleasure.

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