Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3 Reasons Why I Love Reality TV

Hi. My name is Johanna and I'm a reality TV junkie.

Ok. I said it. The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? For years now I've tuned in and followed the Bachelor from lonely lost soul to giddy, hopeless romantic. I've followed stressed out designers on Project Runway as Heidi Klum unabashedly tells them "You're Out" and kissed them auf wiedersehen. I've watched with baited breath as Ryan Seacrest dimmed the lights and crushed the dreams of American Idol hopefuls. But in the past year, my addiction to the genre has grown worse. Lately it seems that there is no shortage of reality show offerings. Now there's a Real Housewife for virtually every city, Top Chef and Cupcake Wars, Top Models and too many singing competitions to count. There's Jersey Shore and Survivor and the Amazing Race and Million Dollar Listing and the list goes on and on and on (and on...)Anyway, you get the idea.

So what's a girl to do? I will no longer deny it. I will no longer tape and TIVO my favorites only to watch them in private moments when no one is looking. In fact, I will embrace Reality TV for three good reasons:

 1. Truth is Stranger than Fiction:

 It's true. As a writer, I could never dream up the plot twists and turns that show up on reality TV. I spend months plotting my books and trying to figure out what my characters will do, who they will be drawn to...what will really tick them off. And even with all my plotting, I'd never be able to write the lines that I hear uttered from these people. Often I can predict next week's episode of Greys or how The Good Wife will end. But reality TV is a roller coaster that keeps me guessing from minute to minute and I LOVE the simple complexity of the whole thing.

2. Character Fodder:

Watching a few reality TV shows can be like doing a whole month's worth of research into a character. Want to write a story set the South? You'll find a host of characters with the tell tale drawl and lingo right on the living room screen. Tempted to touch on a western romance? Reality TV will provide the authentic dress and scenery for your new setting. Reality stars are larger than life, but for a writer the secret is in the details that we see underneath the surface and bring to light in our own characters.

3. Trade Secrets

Watching reality TV gives me a glimpse into many worlds as yet unexplored and unavailable to me. I'm fascinated by the life of a high stakes NY realtor. I'm intrigued by how an Executive Chef runs his kitchen in a five star restaurant. And even on the Bachelor, I have learned a little about the life on vineyard and the inner workings of a funeral home. I find so much great information that I just tuck away in the funnel. Who knows? One of these tidbits just might pop up in my next novel.

So today I've come out of hiding and admitted to the world that I am a reality TV junkie. I've made peace with it and will hold my head high as I watch Theresa Guidice flip her next table or Jeff Probst announce: The tribe has spoken. I will accept it as a professional hazard that I cannot turn away from a great character...even if it makes me cringe just a little.

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