Why I Enjoy Reality TV

As a little boy and as a young man, I have always been excited about watching other people work. My wife and even one of my best friends Scott Smith get embarrassed by my staring at other people at work. My mother defends this obsession by describing my eyeballing as being ‘in deep thought.’

I remember saying when I was younger “If I could get paid to watch other’s work, I would have found my true calling.” One observer of this quote tease me saying “people do get paid to watch others work, their called ‘managers.’”

My mother is partially right with her observation. When I watch others working such as a chef, mechanic, politician or landscaper, I attempt to visualize their passions, dreams and current thoughts. Questions come to me such as ‘Does he love his job?’, ‘Does she really want to do that for 50 years?’ or ‘How did he come to be in that role?’ run through my mind. The only problem with this day dreaming is that I rarely learn the real answer. That is till now…

Reality television has become all the rage in the last few years and I must admit I am a fan. Reality shows that have appealed to me over the last few years are American Chopper, Sons of Guns, Dragon’s Den, Little People Big World, Made In The USA, Dirty Jobs, Flipping Out, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Donald Trump’s Apprentice and Flying Alaska. The common theme is that these shows portrait people in a work environment which may explain why I am drawn to them.

It shouldn’t be surprising these shows are popular. As a child, I loved Marty Stoupher’s Wild America, Bob Villa’s This Old House or any documentary on someone’s real life (especially anything on Davey Crockett.) The new reality TV shows of today’s generation are just a fresher spin on those educational shows of the past. Having loved those shows, it makes me wonder now seeing these nice production outfits and the big money being made in reality TV, why this genre of television took so long to be invented.

On Friday, October 26th, my favorite reality show Gold Rush returns to the air for its 3rd season. It features Todd Hoffman, his dad and their close friends who after facing hard times in 2008 after the financial meltdown decided to pursue their life’s dream: quitting their jobs, going to Alaska, digging for gold and God willing strike it rich.

Reality TV shows like Gold Rush and the others I listed above allow a person like you and me the opportunity to watch others from a birdeye view into their work and often personal lives. I compare it to reading a biography, which I also enjoy, except live and in real-time.  Our internal questions are being asked and answered all within 30 or 60 minutes without even getting out of the recliner. Yep, this is indeed a great world!

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