When you move to a new country, what would you be excited about? – new sights and sounds? Meeting new people? Walking around downtown? Shopping at the outlet malls? Trying out the local cuisine? Me, on the other hand, I was excited to watch all that American Reality television had to offer.
In August, 2016, H and I moved into our first apartment together with pretty much only our clothes. We needed to go buy dishes, food and furniture but on my insistence, the first thing we bought was a TV and when we had to choose a TV channel package, I didn’t need the fancy HBOs and Showtimes. I wanted the channels that had all the trashy shows. I rubbed my hands in glee. So much Bachelor, Bachelorette and cooking shows to watch. But when I turned on the TV, it was clear I had underestimated American TV. Reality TV can be good, bad, ugly and just gross. In my last one year in Denver, believe me when I say, I’ve seen it all:
Business reality shows: there are some shows like Shark Tank where wantrepreneurs pitch a business idea and get money invested in their concept. These range from dog jewelry to pillow support for people who’ve had breast implants and can’t sleep comfortably on their stomach!! Another duo pitched the idea of a “no phone” which was essentially a piece of plastic to get us away from our phones. The number of times I’ve smacked my forehead cannot be counted. And this is a good show because there are some genius ideas. Only in America will people have a solution to every single problem you might have right from a solution to unshrink your clothes to phone soap that washes bacteria off your phone. CNBC has some of the best shows if you are interested in how businesses work, what companies look for and what’s trending.
Cooking shows : honestly, H and I could be brand ambassadors for Food Network. We’ve learnt some awesome recipes, experimented in our own kitchen and watch these shows ad nauseum. Not to mention how much our knowledge of spices and flavor has expanded.When I cook, he says stuff like, “mmmm, it has a nice umami flavor!” Maybe I should tell him umami means a savory meat flavor (which isn’t possible since both of us don’t eat meat). Or the time I made sambar and he said, “I like how the sourness of the tamarind and sweetness of the tomatoes cuts through the spice of the sambar. The sambar is really moist!” really H? What did you expect?
Cooking and business shows is where the good shows end apart from amazing shows like American Ninja Warrior and The Crossfit games that appeal to the new fitness enthusiast in me. Then the trash begins. These are also the real voyeuristic shows that are hugely successful.
Dating shows: this might need a different post but let me make a feeble attempt. There’s The Bachelor where one man gets to choose a wife from 25 extremely good looking, sexy women of different races because diversity. Then there’s shows like Love at first kiss or Married at first sight that are exactly what you think they are. Most of these dating shows involve people fighting over each other for a chance to find love. But the most WTF of them all is a show I stumbled upon called Naked and Dating where a bunch of singles live in a house, naked, go on dates, naked and get to know each other….NAKED!! Not to be judgemental but looks like they are getting to know each other a little too well.
The rich and famous life: the Real housewives series (there really should be an H4 visa wife series), Keeping up with the Kardashians, Famously Single, Southern Charm, Below Deck are shows that pretty much only highlight the lives of the rich in the US. They’re flying from salon appointments to dinner parties on private jets all in the same day. This is also my favourite type of show because it’s amusing to see the bubble these people live in. Their problems include – one of their Bentleys not starting, their favourite designer dress not fitting, a dinner party host not being gracious enough or their maid not turning up (this part, we spoilt Indians can relate to 🙂 ) Most importantly, I want to know what these people do for a living since they have all this money but we never actually see them working.
The social experiment : there are some strange shows like Wife Swap where two women swap families for two weeks so they have a new husband, new kids and different rules. They then meet at the end of the two weeks and basically bitch about how unruly the other person’s family is. Basically, drama masked as a social experiment. There’s also the “lets throw a bunch of completely neurotic people into a house and record them” AKA Big Brother, Jersey Shore (wish it was still on air), The Real World (a bunch of people just sleeping around or fighting). Most of these shows feature spoilt American teenagers who need to be sent for some IIT coaching or live in India ( now there’s an idea for a reality show).
At any point in the day, if you turn on your TV in the US, there are people dating, animals being trained, people fighting, rich people getting richer and the Kardashians. But I really cannot hate on any of these shows because they are my guilty pleasure and I am that person who finishes my workout early so I can go watch a Bachelor screening party at a restaurant nearby with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne (Believe me, it’s a thing while Game of thrones viewing parties do not exist).
PS – there’s a show called Jon Glaser loves gear. The less said about this show, the better, because I truly do not know what this show is about. If I had to put it in a few words I would say it’s the reality tv version of Jab Harry met Sejal – masterpiece of poop!