Reality TV Shows: Your Real Life Is So Much Better

I’m sure that you’re all very nice people, but please don’t be offended if I say that I’m not interested in watching your lives on a reality show.

You certainly don’t want to see mine.

If you watch too much reality TV, it’s easy to overlook that you have a colorful, amazing, beautiful and unique life that is far more interesting than anything on the screen. Autumnal Reflections by Steve Henderson

Like now — I’m sitting in front of the keyboard, typing. I’ll do this for hours, occasionally taking a break to put on a load of laundry (it’s underwear day), lift a few weights (10 pounds, three sets of 8 reps this week), or walk the dog with the Norwegian Artist.

As for the Norwegian, he’s out at the studio, painting, which shouldn’t be tremendously surprising. It’s also not a flashy demo — you know, Mick Jagger getting satisfaction from splattering paint or Tom Cruise hanging upside down from the ceiling while he dabs.

Oh, wait — I’ve got a message for the Norwegian Artist from the website tech. Why don’t you follow me out to the studio and watch us in action?

Back again. That was exciting.

We didn’t fling things, yell at one another, stomp, curse, or rend our garments. The Norwegian nodded and said, “That’s good to know. I’ll get on it later this morning.”

I know — watched from the outside, it seems tremendously boring, but it really isn’t — it’s reality, our reality, the reality of two people who have been married a long time (30 years, this year), run a business together, take walks, talk, eat dinner around the family table, do the dishes, discuss our dreams and aspirations one moment and the need for new socks (white or black? crew or calf?) the next.

It looks . . . ordinary, which is supposedly what reality shows capture but really don’t, because if they did — even distilling one week’s worth of life down to an hour — nobody would watch them because they’re so . . . ordinary.

But like most of what Hollywood pipes into our homes and we accept, the reality of reality shows encompass oddly dysfunctional people, hurling dishes at one another, pulling hair, histrionically acting, demanding, wailing, sobbing, emoting.

Otherwise, why would we waste valuable time watching them?

Actually, why do we waste valuable time watching them?

I have no problem about escaping, mentally, to a peaceful, beautiful place. A good painting takes me there more easily than a TV show. Shore Leave by Steve Henderson

While I have no problem with escapism — I love a couple hours with car crashes and yachts leaping 200 feet through the air and sinister people out to blow up the world — I know that this is make believe, allowing myself a brief indulgence in caloric-dense, nutrient-free mental sustenance.

But reality shows trick us into accepting that the make-believe is real, that Ozzie’s “real” life is so much more compelling than our own, that Snookie is fun and we are not, that our ordinary lives are dismal failures, lived in quiet desperation of inconsequential and tedious ennui.

This is so untrue.

The ordinary lives of ordinary people are beautiful, honorable things — the work we do to put food on the table, the preparation of that food, the sitting around and consuming it — the laughing, talking, crying, joking, observing, doing push-ups, answering phones, replacing light bulbs, mowing lawns, plopping doggie doo in plastic bags, vacuuming, sleeping — these are what make up the bulk of many of our days, and they are good things.

Rather than sit around and watch other people either 1) do strange things to give the illusion of being extraordinarily exciting or 2) be exploited in their genuine weaknesses by sociopathic producers of pain, why don’t we focus on living our honorable, beautiful, one-of-a-kind, worthy and valuable lives?

Your life is uniquely yours. Celebrate it. Spirit of the Canyon by Steve Henderson

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
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10 Responses to Reality TV Shows: Your Real Life Is So Much Better

  1. cabinart says:

    My multiple and random thoughts work best in a list.

    1. Those are the three most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen by Steve! (I know, I always say that)
    2. I’ve never watched a reality show – thanks for confirming that as a good decision.

    3. Does that type of weight lifting keep growing?? One day will you be doing 20 lbs., 6 sets, 24 reps?? THIS is why I avoid that type of exercise – no one can answer this question for me. I’m too busy living an ordinary life to get trapped into that type of growing habit.

    4. Minor typo (sorry, Carolyn, I can’t help myself) in the paragraph about Ozzie’s life – you are wanting “than” instead of “that”. This confirms my belief that spell-check is a very limited technical solution to an endless human problem of NEVER enough time.

    This was fun as always but now I have to change the laundry load, get the cookies out of the oven, run to the P.O., update my blog, and think about lifting a few weights just in case it will prolong my ordinary life.

    • Jana: I love your randomly organized thoughts. You’re such a human being, you. (You know how in Star Trek there are Kirk fans and Spock fans? I never could understood what people saw in Spock.)
      1) thank you! Steve continues to move and agitate and push that color, and every new painting is exciting.
      2) My secret: I, too, have never watched one of these things. What I read in the newspapers is enough. Some of the progeny wastes their time with them as well, and what they have shared has not compelled me to become a viewer.
      3) Yes, the weight lifting thing does increase gradually — my College Girl, whom I’m shortly going to have to rename — Personal Trainer Girl? Definitely not, Middle Child — tells me to increase by one, to 9 reps next week, with the same weight; then 10 the next week; then back to 9 for a “rest” the week after that. Apparently I keep increasing until 12 reps or so, then back down to 8 with a heavier weight. And then she comes by and shakes up the whole thing with new exercises. I find that I do well for three weeks, then totally do nothing, and start all over with 8 reps and the same weight. She rolls her eyes.
      4) Fixed that typo — I love your alert, sharp eyes and your love of the English language and attention to detail. I wonder if your reaction to some of the comments in a recent FASO article, regarding the importance or unimportance of grammar, mirrored mine?

      What kind of cookies?

      • oldswimmer says:

        Re: “I never could understood what people saw in Spock”,. You have not met a person like my second grandchild, then.
        Asperger’s. Quite interesting and very loveable, but he had to spend his 24 years of life taking socialization lessons for people to realize what a valuable mind his is!

        • An excellent point, and one that slipped my mind. I guess I was thinking more of the arguments my junior high best friend and I used to have. Shallow. Shallow.

          I do know, and treasure, a number of people with Asperger’s of varying degrees — and I see the challenge as they fight to learn some of the social quirks and cues that come to many of us so naturally. I am glad that there is a name put to this challenge, because in years past, they were simply labeled as different without any thought to why, or to how they see some things in a deeper and different way from those of us who do not have Asperger’s.

          I can imagine that you love your second grandchild very much, and that you ache for him and glow with pride for him — because that is how I feel for some very dear people in my life who walk a path different from the one I understand.

          • oldswimmer says:

            I just spent a week at my daughter’s where he , her grown nephew, lives. Precious hours with him, especially on a bus ride where we talked (yelled) over the road noise about anthropology and politics to the interest and amusement of other passengers. I am going to borrow the books he’s reading so I can pursue that conversation further. It’s best to ride the horse in the direction it is already going…that is one of the things that helps with Spock-like folks, as you know!!! 🙂 Thanks, dear Carolyn. What a sweet response!

      • cabinart says:

        They were chocolate chip. I can go from zero to a batch in 22 minutes using a big bowl, a wooden spoon, an ice cream scoop and 2 great pans. Preheat oven, measure, dump, stir, scoop, slam in the oven, wash the dishes while they cook (and maybe do a few squats or pushups) and voila!

        I think we would be a hilarious pair trying to exercise together. College Girl would hate our routines, and we would laugh ourselves into limp noodleness.

  2. oldswimmer says:

    No! You mean the stuff on TV that promotes voyeurism, shares the bedroom, documents the correct way to beat your wife, and shows the pleasures of unfaithfulness isn’t REAL??? Oh, no. How will I know how to run my life? And what to wear?

    Of course I am being sarcastic here. I used to rant like that about the soaps some of my favorite people were (maybe still are) addicted to. One had a little portable TV so she could take her soaps to work with her (she cleaned houses). It’s interesting to read the guidlines for a soap episode (I read it somewhere in a writer’s magazine.) You have to have this kind of thing in the first three minutes, another kind of thing in the next x amount of time, and on It required so much sex, so much crime, so much shock effect, so much tension, etc. All geared to get you to the final cliff hanging end. DESIGNED to be bigger than life.

    I used to accuse my people of creating a guideline where their ordinary lives would be boring in comparison. (I also used to liken it to using a vibrator to enhance what was supposed to be a very human and satisfying experience all by itself when mixed with love.)

    Seems that escape is a big tool… must be many people are feeling so trapped by their lives that they think mind-trips are a relief. And what happened to moving right into the trapping we feel and dealing with it. Now that is the stuff of adventure, for sure!!

    I find my own wild west here plenty to keep me on the edge of my seat, even if it’s “what will they think of my adding that pierced half of a lemon to the soup?” Sometimes they come up with a hip hip hooray, and it’s REAL!

    • Susan: Sounds like creating a soap is like writing a Harlequin Romance novel. Definitely not spontaneous, and oh, so designed, as you say. A little uncomfortable, the thought of all that designing, shaping, forming, and manipulating.

      I think the concept of the pierced half of the lemon in the soup shows our unwillingness to be predictable — with those we love, especially, it’s nice to shake them up a bit so that they don’t think they know us as well as they think they do. I like to do this with the progeny — I mean, they’re always doing it to me!

      When you think about what life is — that very next breath that we are incapable of generating on our own — it puts in perspective the term “boring.” What is boring about a daffodil? Or a tree frog? Or a human child? Life is unexpected, ever changing, and dynamic — definitely not boring.

  3. tom weinkle says:

    so much reality tv..I suspect it is cheaper to produce than regular drama, and it is still edited and staged so much it is anything but real. These shows have become an excuse for many not to stay and participate in their own lives.

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