"Ugh, why do you watch that?"
You've likely asked someone this before, or you've been caught watching something so trivial and trashy that you can only sputter a partial excuse.
"I think he's really on the show to find true love."
For many years I was able to use the excuse, "Oh, I have to watch it for work." It was true. I've worked for several television stations that air popular reality shows that people just love to hate. Some of the shows I truly hated. I hated them so much I wanted to punch my fist through the TV. I wanted to pull the girls' cheap extensions and pluck their bad gel nails off their fingers one by one. I wanted people to believe I watched the History Channel to unwind and not New York Goes to Work. Go ahead, judge me.
As someone said to me the other day, "I follow the shows so I'm not left out of the conversation." This is even more important if you're one who likes to follow live tweets of your favourite reality shows. I watched The Bachelor on my PVR once and it felt lonely. The only way to watch the show is live with my laptop and iPhone in hand. The community of like-minded women (and a few men) meet up online to collectively tear a strip into the weakest contestant. The one we pinpoint as "not there for the right reasons" or "too much drama" or "doesn't know how to match her lip liner." Because we are smarter than the guy or girl who has to filter through the spray-tanned crowd and find their soul mate. We see what they don't see and we want to call them out on their shenanigans. "DON'T PICK THAT ONE! IT WILL NEVER LAST!"
When I was in junior high, my friend and I would call each other and watch Another World together over the phone. It was just so much better than talking about it the next day as we teased our hair between classes.
Think you can watch your show a week later and not come across a spoiler telling you who was voted off, didn't lose enough weight or who was sent home during the most dramatic rose ceremony ever? Good luck. Being online during my favourite reality shows is the only way I'll watch them.
A good friend of mine (who is not on Twitter) couldn't understand why I would do this. "You tweet during the show?!" Yes! And some shows know how badly we want in and you can interact with the contestants, the judges, the hair and makeup person LIVE! Include us! Make us feel a part of the show! Make me feel my 140 characters really, really matters.
Most of these shows are American, so will more people jump online when the future of a fellow Canadian is at stake? When the Canadian version of The Bachelor hits the air this fall and your hairdresser's cousin's co-worker's son's teacher is on the show, will you be watching? I will. And with my team of real and pretend online friends, we'll have plenty to say.
Follow Pay Chen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PayChen