Watching Reality

After ages, I had commandeered the TV remote, so I clicked it.

The first channel had a show where a group of strangers was divided into teams in a big house. The teams had to bond and then work with or against the other team over a few weeks. That’s not TV! That is any traditional wedding with the ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ factions. With competitions for dressing up, drinking yourself silly, generally trying to make a fool of yourself, trying to show off. Peripheral tasks include matchmaking grannies, young things trying to attract other young things and a subsection of relatives actively criticising everything from people’s clothes to the caterer’s notepad. And at traditional weddings, just like this TV show, both sides regularly get an opportunity to complete inane tasks which had a lot of significance and symbolism many years ago but now are mere actions that have to be completed for posterity.

I flicked the channel.

It was a cooking show. A member of the audience brought out a bag of ‘surprise ingredients’ generally mismatched on purpose. These ingredients were then given to the contestant and/or professional chefs to cook a three-course meal. But I didn’t realise that was a show either. In our house, it’s called ‘Dad Went Grocery Shopping’ or ‘The Kids Raided The Fridge, Again.’

I flicked channels again.

Now the matchmaking grannies seemed to have disappeared! Gone on the dole because here were a couple dozen men, vying for the attention of one solitary girl and in the commercial breaks they were advertising a program where several women would try and win over a single man. The individual interviews had so much back stabbing, bitching, fake nails and make-up, that I gave up. It seemed to be high school popularity contests all over again. The only real thing here, seemed to be the money made by the dress designers and the business that endlessly supplied red roses.

I flicked again.

A shot of houses in a street, maybe I could watch this. It was about a team of professionals who came in to give the entire house a makeover. We play that too in our house, when unexpected guests are imminent and I am shouting, “Tidy up! Tidy up! I’d like to see the carpet again, forgotten what colour it is!” But the house makeover show was almost over. The skinny, well-dressed, celebrity host was saying goodbye.

The next one was a quest to charge unabashedly through exotic cities to world-famous landmarks trying to find clues to the prize. And I thought to myself, I don’t need to watch this.  I am on a daily quest from morning to night in a bid to not lose my sanity as I try and get through the day.  With clues along the way, from my teenage children, who mostly ruin any strategy or advantage I could have had, with their forgotten lunch boxes, cancelled orthodontist appointments, rescheduled music lessons, wet uniforms still in the washing machine. They also ensure that I don’t run just one race every day but several races rolled into one and my prize is very simple: Making it to bedtime without actually losing my mind or any members of my family.

The only difference is that when I lose these races, as I often do, there is no good-looking celebrity host to give me a pat on the back.  All I get, is a look from the husband that says, “You really should know better by now.”

Fed up, I threw the remote onto the couch and it flicked itself to a different channel. And just when I thought I’d seen everything that night, I found a show where half a dozen families are filmed watching reality shows and commenting on them as they watch. Yes, you read that right. Now, we can watch, not just the reality show but the reactions of people watching those reality shows.

When did life get so unreal that we actually need to watch reality?