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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Un-reality of Reality Shows

On G+, Food Network recently asked for fans to describe the segment they'd like to see on one of the FN shows. I submitted that they should have a "real" non-chef person trying to create chef recipes with a normal budget. That got me thinking about TV in general.

Let's be honest. There's very little reality in the reality shows on TV.

When the Real Housewives first came on, the women didn't represent the average housewife - unless "average" meant married to someone very wealthy (or temporarily kind-of-sort-of wealthy) and living under/caving in to a lot of peer-pressure.  The current housewives are a little more established in their own rights as businesswomen, but are still extremely shallow and self-absorbed.

A true reality show about housewives would show more of the juggling and struggling that women in the home have to cope with nanny-free. There'd be no personal assistants, mansions with indoor basketball courts or trips to places that are on the average woman's "Dream Vacation" or bucket list instead of as a notation on the next film schedule. We'd see more women not wearing full-makeup and Spanx at 7 in the morning. We'd also see more of the kids and husbands. Oh - and those kids and husbands wouldn't be so interchangeable that no one would notice if the families did an overnight swap.

Real people, real kids, real life. It happens.
While I am on my rant about the Housewives, let me  just say that I have seen some of those wives when the camera catches them in full-on sunlight and at the wrong angle. They have bulges, sags and wrinkles just like other women past thirty (and all those heffas are waaaay past thirty, no matter what their lying mouths say), and if they don't it's because they: never eat carbs, ever; don't smile with any abandon; don't go anywhere without a hair-and-makeup person on standby; or they are constantly in pain from sucking it in.

What reality TV would have you think
(Maybe this post will be just about the Housewives. I've gotten on a roll here.)

Have you ever noticed that the kitchens and dining rooms in the Housewives homes are always perfectly clean? I mean, spotless. Even if they are making a batch of Rice Krispy Treats with the (clean and name-brand-attired) kids? There are never crumbs on the floor, goo on the counters, or mysterious stains on the sink back wall. I mean, I know they all have maids and such, but I just don't trust the nutrition or love of a meal made without wrecking the orderliness of the kitchen. When I feed kids, I want to see some evidence that they enjoyed the meal. They don't have to leave the mess of untrained animals being fed at the table, but it would be nice to know that a five-year old doesn't have the social manners of an 80-year old dowager.

Now let's talk about the Housewives' attire.

I would like to think that any woman who has ever been married and had - or has even been within 5 feet of a child - owns a raggedy pair of jeans. Or an ugly, stretched out sweater, or a sweatsuit without "Juicy" or "Victoria's Secret" stitched on it. All the Housewives on TV have perfectly fitting clothes (well, usually) with matching accessories for any occasion. Their sandals never have those little loose threads that show wear and tear from more than one use. Their toenails are always perfectly painted and the heels of their feet are never ashy. Ever. It's as if their skin oozes lotion.

I don't trust a woman who doesn't have to occasionally check her feet or elbows for ash. I have to keep a bottle of lotion on my person at all times and I have had to apologize about the state of my feet before whipping out my dogs for the doctor to do an examination.

What do I know? I'm not a housewife. Even if I one day marry the man of my dreams, I hope to God I never turn into a Housewife. I don't have the willpower. I'm just a single woman with no kids and there are days when I have to do a wheat grass shot before I have the energy to put on makeup. So enough about those women. Let's talk about the food shows.

I have a couple of food show favorites. Guy Fieri is my hero. I love "Diner, Drive-ins and Dives". Lots of real folks cooking and eating real food. That's cool stuff. Except it makes me hungry. I once wanted to move across the coast because of an episode on the best hamburgers made from scratch. Plus Guy looks like a big, tall cute Teddy Bear with cool shades.

My least favorite food shows are the ones where supposedly "real people" do everyday meals.

An "everyday meal" for me doesn't involve fresh-caught lobster or farm-grown ingredients that come from a market in some famous New York district to be cooked up in my cozy kitchen with two ovens and a built-in prep station. I shop at Walmart. I want to see some shows about how to jazz up my tuna casserole without using ingredients that are trending on Twitter among highbrow foodies.

A bit much?

Rachel Ray is annoying, but she's kind of down-to-earth with her meals. Of course, if I wanted to use her branded kitchen items, I'd have to hock my mama's jewelry to make a down-payment on one pan. Bonus points: Walmart carries the Rachel Ray line. They also carry a Paula Dean set that rubs way above the budget of a regular Walmart shopper. I'd need to give up a PFD to accessorize a kitchen with Ray and Dean.

I enjoy watching Giada sometimes just to marvel at how perfectly even and white her teeth are. I do get a little depressed watching her chow down like a truck driver while wearing size-two clothing. Bonus points: she actually seems to enjoy eating.

One day someone is going to do a cooking show for the person who has an oven with a faulty temp gauge and that one burner that always leans a little to the right. Most of the ingredients will be variable. No arugula or Tibetan pepper? No problem. Just use the Mrs Dash that's been sitting in the back of the pantry so long that you have to pound the can against the sink to loosen the flakes. Tell us how to make a decent meal from the fatty ground beef that's always on sale - because not everyone can afford the low-fat, choice ground that they keep behind glass at the butcher's counter. Not all of us shop at a butcher's counter.

So, yeah, I'm kind of over the b.s. of most of these shows.

Reality shows are going to be a joke until they are about "real" people living real lives. Most of us don't have sex tapes for sale, clothing lines in the works, or famous exes. Most of us are just seriously real people trying to survive in a seriously real world.

My "real world" makes me want one of these!


  1. Boy, weren't you totally on a roll! Hated Housewives. Can't begin to tell you. I'm all for real cooking shows and love Guy as well.

  2. ROFL! I was working off some stress! It helped. (Yes, Guy is the best. Cute, cooks & seems like a great family guy. Close to perfection.)

  3. Haha--for REAL about the Housewives shows. I've watched a couple of them before (Atlanta & Beverly Hills), and they are all the same.They are super rich, all they do is go to parties, fly everywhere on vacations-all the time, and are superficial types for sure. I have to laugh because they don't represent "housewives" everywhere. Only a very small percent. Anyway, haha..I enjoyed your post. So true!!

  4. How I adore my two Sandys!!!
    We need our own reality show so we can let them know how real life is done!