What if they filmed a real reality show?
Reality isn't rich housewives, celebrities lives or survival games so why are they called reality shows? And would anyone watch a true reality show?
From Honey Boo Boo to the Real Housewives of New Jersey, I honestly believe there are now more so-called ‘reality’ shows than dramas, comedies and crime shows on television. Not that any of them portray reality. They carry the name simply because they feature ‘real’ people, not actors. But there is nothing in them that reflects the day to day reality most of us deal with. Even the families that might try to portray the normal struggles of the American family must include 19 kids or multiple wives. And that of course makes them exceptional, not the norm. And I get it, I really do. Sensationalism sells. Normalcy probably not so much. But after seeing a recent clip from Chrisley Knows Best, yet another wealthy family with quirky idiosyncrasies, I found myself wondering just what a true reality show might be like.
I imagined my reality family living in a three bedroom ranch somewhere in the suburbs. Mom, Dad and three children. One from his first marriage, one from her first and one that belongs to them both. Of course the first two children split their time between our reality family home and their other parents house, which causes multiple scheduling conflicts and frustrating interactions with ex’s. Child support payments, activity fees, braces and assorted other child related costs make paying the bills a challenge.
We watch as Mom tries to decide which bill gets paid on time and which ones will just have to be late. Oops! The lights go out… maybe Mom should have paid the light bill first. Dad grumbles that Mom needs to get a job, so in the next episode we follow her through the process of trying to find a job. Weighing the potential paychecks against the cost of daycare for the youngest our episode ends with Mom throwing her hands up in the air in realization that a new job would barely cover daycare, the cost of gas and the new wardrobe she would have to invest in. This episode ends with a shot of Mom’s resumes in the trash can.
Episode three opens with Dad getting pulled over by the police because his car is unregistered. He acts surprised, but we know from prior episodes that said car required major mechanical work to pass a safety inspection which is required to register. It was the car or the money to have the lights turned back on. He’ll drive the car unregistered through three more episodes, sweating it each time he needs to drive it to work. In the scenes for episode four we find Mom trying to figure out how to DIY an amazing birthday present for daughter number one to give to her best friend without looking cheap at the birthday party.
This folks is reality. Granted not all families out there are struggling exactly as our reality family is, but I guarantee you they have a lot more in common with them than with the Chrisley’s , Kardashian’s, or any of the Housewives.
A show like this might make normal families feel a bit better about their own situation, and they definitely wouldn't feel like they were failing because their children didn't get a new car for their 16th birthday or even an iPad for Christmas.
It’s not like television shows always shied away from normal families. The Brady Bunch often didn't have enough money and the kids dealt with things like hand-me-downs. Lucy and Ricky lived in a rather small apartment in early episodes of I Love Lucy. Is it so crazy to have a family on television be more like the rest of us? And if we did, would America watch?
Television has always been about escapism to a certain extent. Lucy’s hi-jinks made us laugh and our own failures didn't seem so bad. The Brady Bunch always solved whatever issue it was, the family pulling together and smoothing over any bad feelings. Would our real reality family hit too close to home? Or would we find it refreshing to stop comparing ourselves to millionaires whose tough decisions involve what tropical island to vacation on or which thousand dollar pair of shoes to wear?