The Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I used to have the kind of TV service where we got On Demand movies and lots of “reality” TV shows. I’m not proud of the fact that I consistently watched shows featuring:
- Find-your-perfect-and-hideously-expensive wedding gown
- Bully your dearest friends into agreeing on and buying matching (and also hideously expensive) bridesmaids gowns
- Little kid beauty pageants (with all the requisite spoiled brattiness from the kids and massive over-compensating from the moms)
- Unbelieveably expensive and over-the-top elaborate confirmations and weddings of the mostly Celtic traveling folk
- Uber couponers and their storage facilities
- The reality show featuring the day-by-day activities and proclivities of a family in Georgia whose youngest daughter was on the beauty pageant circuit (rhymes with “money moo-moo”)
It wasn’t until we switched over to basic plus service that I began to realize how deep my addiction to these shows had been. Oh, for a while I missed them and all their drama, but gradually spent less time in front of the TV and more time, well–living.
I knew I was cured when I happened to catch a popular reality show about a ferociously competitive woman who runs a successful dance studio. Her students usually take first place in most of the shows in which they compete, but the price is pretty high in stress, anger and outright bitchery. The girls’ moms take up a good part of the show, all complaining and in-fighting (the little dancers themselves are far more professional). The woman running the studio is unbelieveably harsh and abrasive and is extremely hard on everyone around her.
Well–after watching this show just once, I said to the Crankee Yankee, “what awful people! This is a terrible show! Everyone’s at each others’ throats, there is no kindness or giving anyone a break–it’s just horrible!” And the Crankee Yankee just smiled. In that smile I could read his mind:
- I told you how bad these shows are, but you wouldn’t listen
- I told you that all the arguing and shouting would upset you
- I told you that these shows are addictive
- I told you that, despite the fact that this trash was costing us money, it was making you more immune to how horrible the shows really are
..and he was right! That’s the cycle you get into; first you’re stunned with the sheer awfulness of the people in the show and how they treat each other–that’s the initial horror kicking in. Watch it enough, and you become sort of used to it all–and that’s the acceptance taking over. Keep at it, and then nothing scares or bothers you anymore. And that is where the embracing comes in. You end up being completely fascinated by all that filthy, dirty laundry–so much so, that you actually let your own dirty laundry (both real and in your head) go.
With hope (and constant reminders from the Crankee Yankee), I won’t ever put myself in that position again. Be warned–it’s a slippery slope. One day you’re getting all the housework done, making nutritious meals, holding down your job, being attentive and kind to partner, family, pets, friends, and then you watch that first reality show….
Before you know it, you’re wading through piles of old newspapers and dirty underwear, and you’ve called in “sick” so many times you got fired. You’re eating packaged mac and cheese while staring at the TV, and you haven’t changed your clothes in weeks. Your new friends are a group of trashy TV shows, and your real family and friends are staging daily interventions. Yup–it can happen.
So, here’s my confession: “Hi, I’m Jane, and I was addicted to trash TV.” Today I am clean and sober, only watching the news, PBS, the occasional movie, and a few crime-fighting shows where the good guys always win.