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New reality shows try too hard

Reality shows —- just how far has this fad come, or should I say, fallen? Is it just me, or since the creation of reality shows, have they been getting more twisted and manipulating? If these are truly “real people,” why are we entertained by the pain these shows inflict, even after the lights and cameras are gone?

Some of the most manipulative shows are those which deal with society’s fascination of the difference between love and lust. They’re harmless, right? Why else would we watch them?

One hunky, successful man spends six months with thirty gorgeous, successful women all vying for his attention and love. Each girl tries to one up the others, to show more skin, to smile brighter, to employ some innocent flirting techniques, to win the prize: an engagement ring from this one man. Harmless, yes?

Let’s throw in a twist: let’s tell the women the bachelor’s a millionaire when he actually makes a paltry $10,000 a year. Oh, perfect! It’ll beat the classic gold digger Anna Nicole Smiths in their own game, and test the couple’s newfound “love” on national television. Still harmless?

Ok, let’s look at their lives after the show. The rejected women who had portrayed themselves, or were portrayed, badly on the show get back into the real world, where millions of people worldwide have seen every transgression they had made in their I-love-him-and-want-to-win-him mentality.

They receive hate mail, some lose their jobs. That is, unless they are able to land a spot in the next reality show.

Plus, their dating life may actually be set back, if they’re still hung up on this guy and the way the light had hit his face when he’d effortlessly rejected them.

Moreover, the “perfect, happy couple” ends up splitting. Why? Well, because the guy now has this all-women-love-me-and-I’m-just-giving-them-what-they-want complex, and his fiancée is dealing with the stress of media attention whenever she buys lingerie.

A recent reality show brought it home to me a few weeks ago. While flipping the channels, I happened upon a show where a beautiful blonde girl was telling her family that she was going to marry this loud, mean, seriously loathsome guy —- in three days. Her family was devastated. Her father hunched in disbelief, her mother shook with horror, and her siblings were furious. Over everything else, they were all worried to death.

Having never watched the show before, I was confused. Why is she telling them this when she really has no feelings for the guy, who’s actually an actor?

Then, I found out that that is exactly the object of the show. The producers had presented this girl with a choice: deceive your family into helping you marry this guy with a disgusting personality, and we will give you a million dollars. She apparently thought the money was worth it.

This girl’s family was being hurt, and so was I. This is a reality show, and these are real people. They were seriously being ripped apart, thinking that their beloved baby girl had lost her mind and was signing away the rest of her life to a guy she barely knows.

When they find out it’s a sham, how will they react? Will they be hurt or relieved? How will they look at their daughter who chose to value money more than their family?

This show opened my eyes. Many “reality” shows should be called “messing with reality” shows. They create controlled situations, testing the variable of human morals.

At least in Joe Millionaire and Average Joe they had rewarded principled characteristics —- love despite of money and looks. In this case, it was the opposite. They are testing a person to see how far they will hurt and manipulate their loved ones for a million dollars. They are rewarding greed and callousness.

I’m disturbed by this. Am I alone? In the aftermath of this show, this family will face consequences. Will the girl buy a mansion and pay off college debts, trying not to feel guilty? Her family will forgive her, I’m sure. This deal isn’t big enough to jeopardize anything that deep. Or, at least, I hope not.

Reality shows are getting more and more twisted. The tragedy of this is that for them to be “real,” they must feature real people with real feelings who face real consequences. This is an aspect we often forget, including me. Suddenly we realize that these fabricated shows do cause real harm, and yet we watch.

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