Reality TV Is A Form Of Therapy – Not Just Trash

And here's why

Reality TV is like a white bread toasted It’s salty, it’s sweet. Does it have the highest nutritional content? Non, monsieur. Do we crave it sometimes, dream of it when we come home steaming drunk and need it in our darkest hour? Absolument! 

My love affair with reality TV first started with The Simple Life. Seeing two girls be totally unafraid to be dumb as shit (we’ve since learned from Paris Hilton’s documentary that it was all an act) used to have me snorting laughing. Two hot blondes roaming around America shamelessly flirting with brothers and dads and being unapologetically uninformed and lazy was a tonic. I don’t think its glory will ever be recaptured or reformulated.

Even back then, as a cripplingly awkward and shy pre-teen, seeing Paris and Nicole gave me hope that someday I could be extroverted, chic and gorgeous. It was glorious escapism, especially as I’d never been anywhere more foreign or glamorous than the Isle of Man. 

I caught the bug and was delighted when Paris announced a UK edition of My New BFF, but by that point I had hooked onto something that was going to be a lifelong affair – The Real Housewives franchise.

Episodes of Real Housewives of Orange County were shown in a double bill on ITV2 right after school and in between mounds of homework and my crusty school uniform that for some reason always smelt of BO, it was again a portal.

I was transported to the gated communities of the Orange County, the women who, always the right shade of bottled tan, had diamonds, jewels and the mansion of dreams yet still talked about Jesus in daily conversation. My breath was taken away. The fashion, the cat fights, the piss cheap hair extensions visible on a camera from metres away… How could I not fall hard? 

Reality TV has always been there to perk me up and keep me on the straight and narrow. As someone who struggles with mental health, on heinously bad weeks, an hour of going anywhere but my mind was too precious a trip to miss out on.

Being absorbed into a housewife’s first (heavily autotuned) performance as a middle-aged pop star or a fight about who’s house is rented or not, it was the perfect way for me to turn off and feel calm in a time where being in my head felt like being thrown across gravel. 

Especially now, when I see the members of my favourite show at a pool party or overpriced restaurant slurring and chinking ginormous glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc (how much French can I sneak into this article), it makes me wistful of times gone past with my friends. We need being messy and silly as a release, and if I can’t get out and kiss my friends or act as wingwoman, I sure as hell want to see my adult Polly Pockets, the Real Housewives get out and do it instead.

It frustrates me when people comment ‘who cares’ or ‘who even is she’ on articles about reality stars. Are you really a better, more educated person if you don’t watch one type of TV? Well done, Einstein.

If anything, our world is built on sharing things and comparing experiences and watching reality TV exemplifies just that. We’re out here trying to relate to each other and seeing human relationships build and crumble on TV teaches us life lesson in how to interact (or scream like a cat shagging at 4am).

Nature shows featuring David Attenborough get such high acclaim because we’re experiencing a whole new world – and watching reality TV about people is no different. Let people enjoy what they enjoy, OK? Or shut it.

Written by Rebecca Keane