Monday, October 11, 2010

Guilty Pleasure -- So-Called Reality TV

Last week, my friend Paul Brian Campbell, SJ (I do love writing out his entire name!) posted Guilty Pleasure Come Dine With Me, wherein he admitted to being smitten with a BBC reality show about dinner parties. Kicker question: "Any guilty pleasure, TV or otherwise, that you're willing to share?" I left a brief comment over there as prelude to this post.

Revealing that I haven't owned a television set since 2000 usually generates gasps of shock and awe, even after I confess all my reasons for ditching it.

The admirable reasons: wanted more quiet, wanted to do more reading, would rather gaze at Byzantine icons than a TV screen. Another great reason that resonates with women: was done watching a man watching television.

Never mind that I've been known to tube for hours. Back in the 1990's, my eyes had become little gritty pebbles rattling around in their sockets by the end of Nickelodeon's "Mary-thon." (No, not the BVM, Mary...The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary.)

My renunciation was compromised when Netflix was invented and I ordered entire seasons of television shows to watch on my laptop computer. The following Lent, I canceled my Netflix subscription and never renewed it. Friends who still subscribe to Netflix are my DVD mules.

Hulu arrived on the scene, then SideReel and then network television figured out that streaming shows on their websites would capture more audience. Including me.

And so, it came to pass that one Tuesday night when watching "Brothers & Sisters" and "Desperate Housewives" (from Sunday) online wasn't quite enough and the buzz within my Twitter stream* about Jake and Vienna had finally gotten to me, I started watching "The Bachelor."

Not the whole season, of course.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, become more savvy about pop culture. First, I was horrified. And then? Fascinated. If only this crap had been available back when I was teaching Women and Men in Society as well as Sexuality and Society. I could've used this show as content.

And that, dear readers, is how I justify this guilty pleasure. I may not be actively teaching Sociology, but I am a Sociologist and "The Bachelor" is a treasure trove of data about contemporary social worlds, as is "The Bachelorette." That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Yet another reason I'll be heating my heels in hell, I suppose.

*No joke, most of the buzz seems to emanate from clergy.


  1. Hi Meredith:

    You ended your blog: Yet another reason I'll be heating my heels in hell, I suppose.

    The way I see it...your main problem is that you STILL WEAR HEELS!

    My never-guilty TV pleasures are:

    SURVIVOR (haven't missed a season since it began over 10 years ago. Even applied to be on the show (my biggest dream of all) that's running now...old vs young.

    MODERN FAMILY one of the best mindless sitcoms ever written

    CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM Just discovered it a few months ago and now watch the reruns M-F on the TV-Guide about the Jewish-Gentile couple careening their way through real Hollywood. Larry David (who wrote Seinfeld) plays himself as do all the other stars who weave in and out. This one is a laugh-outloud, perfect-for-just-before-bedtime trist through life, making me ever so glad I'm a midwesterner at heart and not a Hollywood roustabout.

    GRAY'S ANATOMY Gotta have at least one medical show on your list of mindless TV. And this one is best at the slice-of-life relationship struggles.

    DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES Find me a woman who doesn't love this.


    GLEE The three songs per episode and Jane Lynch as Sue combine to put the stretch in the rubberband of good and evil in the world. Fascinating.

    My TV watching sometimes adds up to about ten hours a week. I don't feel the least bit guilty even when I manage to cram it all in. Who says everything we do must be educational (I learn a lot watching these shows!) or culturally stellar (my TV-shows all represent the culture of today)? I enjoy watching these shows and that's enough reason for me. At the end of a productive day I love plopping my ars in the old teal recliner, feet up and TV on. Hee-haw! Don't forget the popcorn.

    Your friend
    Patricia Lorenz

  2. I am always embarrassed to admit that I so love The Bachelor and Bachlorette that I DVR it. It is so bad, so wrong, I just can't hep myself!

    And then when Bachelor Pad came on I was in heaven.

  3. Yep, I watched "Bachelor Pad" -- but only for research purposes!

  4. I gagged when the Bachelor/ette went the soft porn route. Yuck.

    I just discovered "Law & Order: UK" on cable... It's not enough that I can follow three different versions of L&O at a time, now I have a whole new series with an accent...

    "Ace of Cakes" because the people working in the cake store really enjoy working with each other. (Unlike some other cake store show where the main guy is the center of attention.)

  5. Love this. I got rid of my tv 8 months ago and have never looked back. I watch a few things on-line occasionally (grey's), but other than that I find I'm not missing much and have a bunch more time! Great post


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