My name is Ava Wigdor and I am addicted to reality television. We all have guilty pleasures—those things that prompt side glances, judging laughter and possibly alter the way people think about us if it ever came up. Today, I would like to talk to you a little about mine. Some call it embarrassing, trashy, even a way to lose brain cells. Reality TV covers a large span of competition shows in fashion, cooking or love, shows that follow a group of friends or workplaces, journeys to find the perfect wedding dress or manage life with 19 kids. If I am being honest with you, I do not think there is a category of reality TV that I have yet to watch.
For years I have been ridiculed and shamed for something that has fueled me with an edge of my seat, jaw-dropping, glued-to-the-couch sense of euphoria. Now I hope to use my guilty pleasure to show you a way to cope with the quarantined state that we all find ourselves in. In the absence of human interaction, it is fascinating to watch others engage in it. With reality TV, we get a taste of the social world that we have been stripped away from. While you are stuck at home, soak in the expensive restaurants, drinks thrown in faces and love triangles on your screen. With all of the shocking and terrible things that are happening across the world, there’s something almost therapeutic that can come from soaking in drama that has absolutely nothing to do with you or anyone you really care about.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the constant uncertainty of this pandemic, I recommend venturing into competition-based reality shows. While shows vary in topic, each contains set rules with clear winners and losers. There is usually a prize at the end peppered in with some drama between contestants and admiration of the successes of the competitors. Beyond giving us a sense of reliable structure, these shows can inspire our own creative pursuits for whenever we decide to get off the couch. My family has followed in the footsteps of these shows by holding a donut decorating competition. For the sake of my own pride, I will not reveal the winner. These shows can inspire you with plenty of ways to kill time from testing out makeup looks or practicing your audition song for the next season of “The Voice.”
You may even find emotional validity to your current experience as shows like “Big Brother” reveal how staying inside one house can start to make you feel crazy. With siblings home from college and parents working from home, tensions are bound to rise. These shows will show you first hand that when humans are placed in these conditions, it’s destined to happen. You and your family are not alone if as frequently stated on “America’s Next Top Model”: “There’s drama in the house.”
And of course, everyone’s quarantine obsession, “Tiger King.” A documentary-style mini-series that has flooded my social media, newspapers and Zoom calls with different claims on whether or not Carole Baskin fed her husband to tigers, this series is filled with twists and turns and the strangest cast of characters that I have ever seen. The show stars a self-proclaimed “gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet.” I honestly think a lot of its popularity has stemmed from its ability to remind others that there are people who have much messier lives than you do.
I think we can all agree that we are going through an overwhelmingly scary and generally negative time. It is easy to fall down holes in different news articles and feel like you can’t keep up. With special news reports seeping through what feels like every wall of my house, I can now recognize Governor Andrew Cuomo’s voice as easily as one of my close family friends. I believe that what we all could use right now is some escapism. Stay informed, but take a break and become one with your couch as you watch a group of desperate people fight for love or try to bake the perfect cake.