Sophie Henry

Over winter break, I developed a concerning obsession with reality TV. 

Perhaps “developed” is the wrong word. My obsession with reality TV is most certainly not new. And I’ve got my Netflix history to show for it. 

“Love Island.” “Cheer.” “Dance Moms.” “Survivor.” “Married at First Sight.” I’ve watched them all. Trust me; it’s addicting. 

There’s just something remarkably beautiful about watching absolute strangers on your screen fall helplessly in love and share their deepest secrets and shout angry threats at each other from across the room. Now, as for that moment when Toby finally goes back to Chloe after flirting with just about every other girl in the villa? Breathtaking. That scene when Lexi is forced to leave her beloved cheer team? Gut-wrenching. That episode when Keith passionately throws Alexis’s stuffed bear into the fire? I nearly cried. 

If you, like me, have spent an ungodly amount of time watching reality TV, then please, let’s be friends. And, if not, then I suppose this is my invitation to pitch reality TV as the best possible way to spend your lazy lay-on-the-sofa break days. I’ll note that in consideration of your readings and problem sets, I do not condone watching reality TV during the semester. 

In truth, there are many dangerously fabulous and overwhelmingly addicting features that make up the allure of reality TV. For one, the drama is unmatched. Watching Denise mercilessly blindside Sandra during Tribal Council somehow makes me feel oddly at peace with even my most heated suite arguments. That’s right; I’ve managed to relate Survivor Tribal Council to my suite arguments. Because reality TV is just oh so relatable. I’m serious. 

I guarantee that you will feel for Millie when the supposed love of her life, Liam, kisses that pretty blonde girl. What a douche. Takes me right back to my first heartbreak. I always knew love was cruel. Cue a slow, dramatic tear. And that look on Lexi’s face when her cheer team wins the national championship? I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe eight-year-old me should’ve never quit gymnastics. 

I turn up the volume and play the next episode, laying on my sofa as I watch all the heartbroken Millies and ambitious Denises and passionate Lexis dancing and shouting and falling in love on my screen. And, all the while, I cannot help but see bits of myself — bits of my first love, my closest friendships, my toughest betrayals. Bits of our world — our homes, our families, our biggest hopes and wildest dreams. And I wonder if perhaps reality TV is remarkably more real that I ever thought it could be.