Over the past year, I’ve started watching reality TV. I didn’t watch it before (save for competition shows Project Runway and RuPaul’s Drag Race) because I did not understand the allure of watching normal people get rich for fighting with each other onscreen. Though I have always been interested in the affairs of other people–colloquially referred to by many as ‘a gossip’–it never occurred to me that the safest and most satisfying place to focus my curiosity would be the scripted settings of manufactured drama coupled with the real emotions of the human players obliged to play through the storylines of each season.
Things in my life have changed and now I am drawn over and over to the petty and serious ruckuses that unfold between men and women contracted to spend portions of their lives together in public and creating intrigue. I like to imagine I can discern between real emotion and fake, spontaneous action and scripted, actual dialogue and lines that have been added in post-production to create the verisimilitude of narrative. I used to think I understood human relationships very well. I now know I do not. I watch Reality TV as part of my re-education. I ask questions: who can be trusted? Who is lying? Who benefits from the lie? Who should I watch out for? Who is unsafe?