In the name of full disclosure, we will admit that we enjoy watching trashy reality shows as much as the next girls. We'd call it a guilty pleasure, but we don't really feel guilty about it. "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" helped us through the winter, just like "Hogan Knows Best" and "Living Lohan" got us through many hard workouts. That said, we also think that reality television is bad for so many reasons. It is dumbing down society, promoting the absolute worst values we can imagine, and changing the entertainment industry - we'd argue for the worse. Quality programming is becoming increasingly hard to find, but "Top Model" marathons and back-to-back episodes of "The Hills" are plentiful. As a result, we know tons of smart, educated people who are completely addicted to these shows, but we're not worried about them. We're worried about the impressionable young boys and girls out there who hang onto reality stars' words as if they're gospel and who actually base their lives around these shows. These are the people whose lives will be forever changed by reality TV:
#1 - Little Girls
Thanks to "The Bachelorette," little girls grow up seeing that if they can't find a husband on their own, they can just go on TV and make out with 25 different hot guys to magically find their Prince Charmings. Teenage girls, on the other hand, watch those nasty brats on "My Super Sweet Sixteen" and then turn into them by throwing hissy fits when all they get on their big day is ice cream cake and a key to the family Honda. What about "Keeping Up With the Kardashians"? In order to "keep up" with them, little girls are taught that all it takes to be a celebrity is to become a glorified porn star. Then there are the dozens of "makeover" shows that hire plastic surgeons to make "regular" girls look like they're favorite celebrities. We're certainly not saying that all reality shows are bad, but these examples are teaching our little girls the absolute wrong things about themselves - that they should strive to be uneducated, slutty brats with fake boobs. We urge you to steer your daughters' eyes away from the screen during these shows or to at least take the opportunity to explain why those women are pretty much the worst role models one could pick.
#2 - Little Boys
We think that little boys should be out riding their bikes, finding treasures in the gutter, and daydreaming about they're cute little crush at school. They should not be glued to the TV watching Flavor Flav hook up with the most classless, scantily clad, cat-fighting women we've ever seen. And we don't want them to be obsessed with watching Tila Tequila to see if she's ultimately going to choose a guy or a girl to be her partner, either. Boys have plenty of time to learn about bisexuality; they do not need some MySpace whore in a sting bikini and stripper heels encouraging them to think about girls on girls. They'll waste enough time thinking about that when they're good and ready.
#3 - Husbands
Our friend's ex-husband never missed an episode of "Laguna Beach." He was completely obsessed with those sixteen-year-old rich kids with blonde highlights. It turns out he was also living a double life. When he wasn't talking about Lauren Conrad and her nemesis, he was banging some other chick the whole time our friend was planning their wedding. Complete and total coincidence? Could be. But we think that reality shows are kind of like strip clubs - if your man visits one occasionally (like for a bachelor party) that's totally fine and harmless, but these shows (and clubs) can also suck your man in by showing him an alternate lifestyle where there are no rules, no repercussions, and all the fake boobs and equally fake tans he can feast his eyes on. We'd prefer to keep our man with us in the real world, instead.
#4 - Wives
The women on reality shows can make even the most confident women out there feel like they are not beautiful enough, skinny enough, or tan enough, and especially like they don't have enough shiny things. Does watching reruns of the Real World make you feel good about where you are in life? And does hearing Denise Richards explain that she needs a $9,000 grill because she likes things that are "a little bit fancier" make you feel better or worse about your lifestyle? We don't think that anyone should try to emulate the people on reality shows, and it's very sad that watching too many of them can actually impact one's self esteem. Women who are addicted to these shows and take them too seriously should try watching the news about the rest of the world - it's sure to make them feel better about the $35 grill in their own backyard.
#5 - Reality Stars
Yes, it may seem counterintuitive to say that reality shows are bad for the very stars that are taking the jobs away from real actors (and writers and directors) and are becoming rich and famous from these shows, but think about where some recent reality stars have landed. "Newlyweds" surely contributed to Jessica and Nick's breakup, and we wonder if "Hogan Knows Best" had anything to do with little Nick's horrible car crash and subsequent prison time. No, there may not be a direct correlation between reality show and prison, but these shows do inflate their stars' egos and make them believe that they are omnipotent, immortal creatures. Dealing with celebrity is hard enough for people who have actually earned it with their own hard work and talent. It must be even more difficult to handle when it comes overnight and for no good reason at all.