I'm addicted to reality TV. Hard-core, trashy reality TV. Not just The Bachelor, or The Housewives of Orange County/NY/Atlanta and the rest. I'm talking way back: I Love NY (1,2 and 3). Rock of Love and, even more compounded, Rock of Love Charm School.
Besides the relatively harmless American Idol and Dancing with the Stars I've often watched mindless TV shows aimed at teenagers and dropouts: Celebrity Rehab (and even further, Celebrity Rehab Sober House) and the lowest of the low Confessions of a Teen Idol.
And oh my, the purest form, the hardest core, the strongest lure: the trash TV reunion shows with their obsequious hosts, where nails are bared, hatreds spew, and secrets spill. I love to watch the bleeped cat fights of low-brow Theresa and everyone else sitting near her.
Why, you may ask, would a woman of a certain age, who likes to listen to Bach cantatas and has seen most of Ingmar Bergmann's films, have stooped to the likes of Flavor Flav and the skanks who love him?
Damned if I know. Maybe it's the idea of off-white noise without having to concentrate. It's hearing talk in an empty house, it's feeling superior, it's whatever makes me happy, like some new drug. Whatever the reason, when I have scanned the TV listings through the years my eyes go right past PBS's Nova and onto I Love Money, or Ru Paul Drag Race.
And I don't just watch these mindless episodes once. I sometimes see them several times. I get to know the names of the participants and their drunken, exhibitionist ways. Their boobs the size of watermelons (usually the women, except on The Biggest Loser). Their wagging, in-your-face tushies. Their neck-bobbing tempers. Their awful grammar and crooked, blazing white teeth. Their hair extensions in several shades of purple and red. Need I go on?
Watching all this is lurid in a rubbernecking way. It engages a part of my brain that seems to like the base stimulation without much thinking. No lousy plots to follow. No bad acting. Just a fun-house mirror version of life.
Why am I addicted to this crap, at a point in my life when I can tell the difference between worthwhile and worthless? When did this monster first rear its sordid head? Was it a product of menopause? Did I have a head trauma I don't remember? Or am I just a tacky lady in a semi-classy lady's body?
Oh, I don't care for all of it. The Jerry Springer Show and the court shows hold no interest (she says proudly). And I still watch Charlie Rose and Rachel Maddow. But if you took my trash TV away, I'd have a withdrawal, I'm sure. I'd wander around unable to read anything longer than a Huffpo post. And because I often have these shows on in the background when I blog, maybe I wouldn't even be able to write.
Anyway, I've admitted it to the world. And maybe that's a first step in weaning myself off this low-level entertainment. If my book club members knew about my secret addiction they would ban me. If my sons knew this they would worry that I was edging towards dementia. You who read me now know that I am a shallow addict and an unworthy intellect.
And yet, despite the well-deserved scorn, I am looking forward to seeing a Chopped marathon and the Millionaire Matchmaker reunion and seeing Kim and Kroy's new 17 million dollar mansion and Bethany's new season.
Can anyone help me? Or should you even bother? Or, maybe you're like me -- a supposedly intelligent person -- and can give me an aha moment once and for all that can clear this up.