I work on campus with a woman whose only TV watching consists of reality shows, so, in an effort to keep up with her, I tuned in to several of them over the past year. Here are my findings about 2011’s best and worst reality shows.
When VH1 premiered Mob Wives, I expected it to be a trashier take on The Jersey Shore and it was, but it was so much more than that. These four women have actual ties to the mob, and with them, old rivalries that date back to some serious crimes. Watching Drita, one of the stars, remove her shoe so she could attack another woman was easily the most unintentionally hilarious moment of its short run. My dad even looked up from his newspaper to watch the brawl transpire. I couldn’t be happier to see its return in January.
In case you haven’t been witness to the video slowly spreading around this week, The Virgin Diaries premiered on TLC on Sunday night and followed a couple who hadn’t even kissed yet. “We’re saving it for marriage,” the groom proclaimed as he sat on a swing-set. “Then we’ll do intercourse,” the woman chimed in as audiences across the country, myself included, gagged in embarrassment.
I didn’t watch Baseball Wives, but my co-worker tells me that former New York Yankee Chuck Knoblauch’s wife is on the show and threatens the other women with a sex toy and a Taser, vaulting it high onto my “to watch over Christmas break” list.
Over the summer, my mom and I watched a marathon of My Strange Addiction, of which my personal favorite was an episode that followed a woman who ate giant chunks of drywall. There was also a woman who lived with close to 30 naked mole rats. I’m sure she’s a good time.
During Thanksgiving break, I got my whole family into Extreme Couponing. My brother’s not-so-inner-nerd came out when the protagonist was checking out at the end of her shopping spree and was actually owed $3 due to her diligence. “It’s all things they don’t need though!” my mom shouted. True, but it makes for some damn compelling television.
I’ve found that as the semester goes on, reality TV is my best option when it comes to just shutting the world out. Sure, I could sit down with an episode of The Good Wife when I get stressed, but it’s easier to lose myself in the so-serious drama of shows like The Real Housewives of Atlanta. As much as I love digging into my weekly dose of American Horror Story, I try not to watch it when I’m in the mood for a complete mind-numb, because I’m afraid both that I won’t be able to focus and then, subsequently, that I’ll miss one of its many plot twists.
Maybe I’ve been so into these types of shows lately because they remind me of home more than anything Boston has to offer. My mom grew up in the Bronx, and when she gets angry, the accent comes out. The ladies of The Real Housewives of New Jersey may seem laughable to some, but I know women like that, whether family or friends. Sure, I’ve never seen an aunt flip over a table and call someone a “prostitution whore,” but I’ve seen things close to it at family parties in Queens and graduations in upstate New York.
So while I’d love to tell everyone how much I’ve enjoyed Breaking Bad and Mad Men’s past several seasons, I’d be lying. While I’ve watched both shows, I find that as soon as I get back to my dorm room, I’m not interested in watching Don Draper or Walt White go about their arduous daily lives because, perhaps, it’s too depressing or requires too much of my already exhausted brain. I’m sure I’ll look back on the following statement with total disdain someday, but give me catty Housewives and bratty Toddlers and Tiaras over meth-dealers any day of the week.