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Why we’re grateful for reality TV—and why I’m grateful for you

Why we’re grateful for reality TV—and why I’m grateful for you
Reality TV helps one viewer deal with life's ups and downs. (Photo by Paul Brennan)

Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you’re reading after the long holiday weekend or on Thanksgiving day itself as an escape from family drama that’s worse than anything on The Real Housewives, please know that I’m grateful for you being here, on reality blurred.

Sixteen years ago, when I first launched this site, I had no idea it’d last this long—and I definitely didn’t realize that I’d connect to so many of you, whether you’re fellow reality TV fans, involved in creating this entertainment, or actually have appeared on TV for our entertainment and enlightenment.

So, thank you for reading these words, however and wherever you read them. And thank you for keeping reality blurred in your bookmarks or social media feeds, or offering me a place in your inbox every week. Thank you for keeping this site going just with your presence, but also with your tips, disagreements, kind words, and everything else.

I am also grateful for this genre. Since I was a teenager, it’s been introducing me to people, places, experiences, and ideas that I would not have been exposed to otherwise. I’m so appreciative of the people who’ve allowed themselves to have their lives tape, for those who do the taping, and those who put it all together.

Again, thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. I’m also appreciative of those who submitted their own reality TV-related gratitude. A selection of those responses follows.

Friendship through Big Brother

If it weren’t for Big Brother, I never would have connected with my best friends. I have about 20 people who I met in a fan site chat room nearly 10 years ago who have become the closest, best friends I’ve ever had. We live all over the world, and most of us have never met each other in real life, but we talk 24/7, spill our guts, share the happy and sad days of our lives. We celebrate births and birthdays; we mourn deaths together. We are diverse in age, race, and gender. We come from different political and socio-economic backgrounds. But we came together due to our love of Big Brother and have found that we have so very much in common. I love these guys. —Christina Watkins Fox

 

An inspirational escape

Reality TV provides me with an escape from my own reality. The positive moments have inspired me to do more to achieve my dreams while the dramatic moments have taught me to embrace the rollercoaster ride that life can be. —@TotallyAravind

 

Tim Gunn’s honesty and the Survivor water cooler

I’m thankful for your site and all your tweets. I love to read your analysis in the stories you write, so thank you!

I am also thankful for Tim Gunn. I love how honest and thoughtful he is with the designers on Project Runway and Project Runway Junior. He is able to give them useful critiques without being unkind or mean.

I’m also thankful for Survivor. I love to converse with people at work about each episode the next morning. It’s a fun way to connect with them.

Happy Thanksgiving!
—Diane

 

Connecting with a coworker

I love reality TV because I usually don’t have to think much while it’s on. It’s escapism at it’s best. I love Survivor but The Amazing Race needs to be on like yesterday. I have become really good friends with a coworker of mine through our love of reality TV. We discuss the importance of how ugly the winning outfit on Project Runway was or who irks us on Big Brother, et cetera.

 

Real stories have value

Reality TV allowed me to believe that ordinary people could tell their stories to the world and prosper for it. Admittedly, I’ve become more cynical about that view over the last 15+ years, but the value is still there, and it’s even more wonderful the rarer it appears. It also gave me an outlet for my snarky commentary via all the wonderful people I met during my time writing for Reality News Online, both from my fellow writers and the dedicated readers, fans and former contestants alike. We didn’t always agree, and I’m pretty sure some outright hated me, but I loved it all. —Bill Hammon

 

RuPaul’s Drag Race provides an escape

When my mom was dying there were two things that helped me through: The Howard Stern Show and RuPaul’s Drag Race (yes, I am a huge fan of both Howard and Ru). After I’d leave the hospital and was alone—my incredible friends were of great support but they couldn’t be with me 24/7—it was tough. When I’d wake up in the middle of the night feeling anxious and afraid I’d turn on Howard and it would soothe me.

And on Monday nights I’d watch Drag Race. The way Ru seems to care about the queens, the challenges, the fashion, creativity and of course the lip syncs all took me away from what my reality was. For that I am forever grateful. And one thing that I learned from the show that still sticks with me is from the wonderful Latrice Royale, “It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fall down. Get up, look sickening and make them eat it!” —Iris

 

Travel with The Amazing Race, life lessons from Survivor

I’m thankful for The Amazing Race. Over the years I’ve been able to see the world through my television and experience places and sites I never would be able to actually visit in person. Many would say the show is not what it once was and that may be true but it is still, in my opinion, the best reality show ever.

I must give a shout out to Survivor for reminding me that things don’t always go the way we want or plan and even when that happens, it’s okay. Life does indeed go on. Both of these shows are examples of life in microcosm in their own unique way and they have indeed enriched my life as a viewer. —Wanderlust in Randleman, N.C.

 

Changing food habits because of Deadliest Catch

I’m really thankful for Deadliest Catch. I’ve always loved eating crab, so when a show debuted 12 years ago about how it’s caught, I was hooked. I’ve learned so much from the show, and other reading I’ve done because of the show. Most important to me, I’ve learned that Alaskan fisherman are regulated by the DFG to fish sustainably. Because of this, I found a website where I can buy Alaskan seafood directly, where I used to just buy it from my local grocery store. So while I still haven’t figured out how to get my king crab from the Hansens or Hillstrands directly, it makes me happy to be able to support other Alaskan fisherman, and know that their fisheries aren’t being overfished. —Melissa in Calif.
 

Reality TV show, podcast, and star shout-outs

Rob Cesternino for a family of podcasts that have accompanied me on many a commute and late work shift and given interesting reality alumni to shine outside editing.

That producers can still create goofy shows with a sense of humor like King of the Nerds, America’s Next Weatherman, and Santas in the Barn.

And Michelle, self-proclaimed “worst superfan ever” from BB18 for her humility, candor, humor, returning to social media post-show. —Keith

 

Learning about the world

“I get a lot of interesting and quirky travel information watching The Amazing Race and The Amazing Race Canada. Makes me want to travel to different places and I like the fact we learn things about each and every place that is visited.” —Fiona Rose Lamb

 

I promise I didn’t write these

  • I feel like reality TV has connected us with YOU, Andy. And for that I am very grateful. I love your blog and your posts and every snarky, thoughtful, or impassioned comment you make. You make us think about the bigger picture surrounding reality TV and media in general, and we definitely need those insights right now. Keep on keeping on; you are much appreciated! —Jolene Mittelstedt 
  • Andy, the reality TV-related thing I probably am most grateful for is you.  You give me insights on my favorite shows (BB and Survivor are at the top), and other insights that enhance the reasons I wouldn’t watch some shows with 10-foot telescope.  Thanks to you for all you do for us out here. —Dorothy

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion

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