11 Healthy Reasons Why We Watch Reality TV

The very first reality show I ever watched was in 1992. I was a student at a performing arts high school and the biggest dream I had in the world was to move to New York City. When the true story of 7 strangers living The Real World on MTV debuted I was in awe. I instantly identified with Julie, the southern girl who was hoping to make it big in the city, and I tuned in every week to find out what was happening. Watching the show felt like having a permisable glance into a new world, because of course it was all real. Wasn’t it?

People refer to reality TV as a guilty pleasure. I think we can all let go of the guilt. Many of us are watching two to three reality programs this summer and having a blast! We like to watch people in unusual settings, master chefs at work, gifted dancers and singers — we go on the journey with reality TV.

Andy Dehnart gave a brilliant TEDx Talk about why reality TV is important. In a recent article in the New York Times, Andy shares, “reality television reveals a lot about humanity. It is at once a window and a mirror, showing how real people react and interact in extraordinary situations. It also forces us to consider how we’d respond — and how we are responding to what we watch.”

If you are drawn to watch reality TV shows you are not alone!

What’s the deal with reality TV? Why do we watch it?

  • Why We Watch Reality TV 1 of 12
    Why We Watch Reality TV: a look into our emotional connections with our favorite reality TV shows

    Watch reality TV? You are not alone! Many of us are enjoying several unscripted shows this summer. Find out what keeps us tuning in every week.


    Image Credit: Shutterstock

  • Big Brother | Lessons in socialization 2 of 12

    Danyelle Little from The Cubicle Chick, watches Big Brother. I saw her Tweeting about the show so I asked her what the draw was. Danyelle says she tunes in because, "it's a case study of how adults react in adverse conditions. How they manipulate and play one another for the goal of winning money. How some totally change themselves into what they feel others want. It's not positive but a lesson in socialization."


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Dancing With the Stars | Learn how to step out of your comfort zone 3 of 12

    I always seem to get caught up in the first few episodes of a new season of Dancing With the Stars. Then the celebrity I was rooting for gets voted off and I get bummed out and stop watching. My friend Robin also loves seeing celebrities on competitions. She says, "I think it's sort of fascinating to see people step out of their comfort zone and take on something new, especially something physical, and being celebrities it helps me to feel like it's someone I "know." I'd love to watch celebrities take on every Olympic sport."


    Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

  • Project Runway | Observe expert fashion advice 4 of 12

    Project Runway is such a great show to watch on social media. (Just make sure you use a hashtag so people wanting to avoid spoilers can mute you!) I love being able to watch this show with friends online and discuss every detail, from Tim Gunn's appropriate love of plaid to Heidi's outrageous heels. My fashion savvy pal Candice says, "I love shows like Project Runway because I get to see experts in areas I'm not an expert in but love. It's a way for me to glimpse into those worlds I would never get to see otherwise."


    Image Credit: Lifetime

  • The Biggest Loser | Get inspired to workout 5 of 12

    I haven't watched The Biggest Loser in a long time but there is no denying it is still incredibly motivating and empowering for a lot of viewers. My Twitter friend Honorée says she tunes in because, "it inspires me to workout, even when I don't want to. The show inspires me to be fit and healthy."


    Image Credit: CBS

  • Restaurant Impossible | Lessons in business AND cooking 6 of 12

    Not every reality TV show is a contest. Sarah Pinnix is a big fan of Restaurant Impossible. She says, "I LEARN so much. He is such a fantastic business coach (and chef)."


    Image Credit: Food Network

  • So You Think You Can Dance | Experience the culture of dance 7 of 12

    Almost everyone I talked to about reality TV immediately started gushing about So You Think You Can Dance. This show is beautiful feel good TV! 

    Lee from CoubleDumb says this show is, "probably the only culture we get aside from reading and the occasional live music."

    Cecily from Uppercase Woman says, "I love So You Think You Can Dance because it offers such beauty. I like talent. and heart. "

    Erin from A Parenting Production raves, "I adore So You Think You Can Dance. It's art on TV. I love the variety of dance and talent.

    Jessica continues, "I have come to look forward to this show every summer. The creativity and talent is just so powerful. The regular cast is extremely likable and there are performances from season's past that have stayed with me ever since."

    Kacy is also a fan, "I LOVE So You Think You Can Dance and Project Runway because on those shows it seems to me like genuine talent and pluckiness tend to be rewarded. I think those two shows are great for showcasing real talent."


    Image Credit: FOX

  • The Real Housewives | The ultimate sociological study of women 8 of 12

    My friends Elana and Kelly both enjoy watching episodes of Bravo's The Real Housewives. Elena says, "I watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and NYC because it is mindless and is a great distraction from the treadmill. I admit to having gotten sucked into Lisa Vanderpump's Vanderpump Rules because it was too over the top to turn off."

    Kelly has different reasons for being drawn to the shows. She tells me, "For me it's not about the drama, it's about the success these women found, married into, or grew up with in life and how that changes/molds them. Of course it's all wrapped up in fabulously overdone settings and expensive clothes, hair, and makeup. There's a social, beauty, and class commentary that goes behind the 'scenes' that makes it almost like a sociological study of women in various regions of the US."


    Image Credit: Bravo

  • The Real World | Connect with a younger generation 9 of 12

    It's so surreal to see new casts of The Real World - they are so young! And yet every year I find myself curious about who will be cast, what city they will be in, and how the house will be decorated. I also like to watch because I somehow feel like it keeps me connected to a younger generation. My friend Megan has been watching The Real World as long as I have. She says, "I saw the very first season of The Real World (when it aired) and I was hooked on the show. I almost applied to be on in my college days. It's the one reality show I occasionally watch.... I love the premise, the cool homes they "live" in, the cities, and the jobs. Oh, yeah.... and add in the drama."


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • The Voice | Learn positive vocal lessons 10 of 12

    This was the first year I had ever watched The Voice and I really loved how talented everyone on the show was. There were no joke contestants or gag reels. I asked my always positive friend Amiyrah why she is a fan of the show. She said, "because it's a show that encourages. The coaches go out of their way to help contestants achieve their dreams. It's a great feel-good show."


    Image Credit: NBC

  • The Bachelorette | Perspectives on bulk dating 11 of 12

    One of the most fun reality shows to watch is The Bachelorette. The best way to watch it is with author Jennifer Weiner. During the show Jennifer tweets her thoughts about every moment, and it is the smartest and funniest thing to happen to reality TV in ages! I know many people who started watching the show simply because her tweets were SO hysterical. 


    Image Credit: ABC

  • Keeping Up With the Kardashians | Find your zen 12 of 12

    Sometimes you just want something mindless on the television to keep you company while you fold the laundry at 11pm. Having a show that allows you to just exist on an observational level is pretty much like having a pet fish. It's just zen. Jill from Musings from Me agrees. She says for her, "reality TV is mindless entertainment. Some nights I am fit for nothing but watching these shows."


    Image Credit: E!

What reality show do you enjoy watching? What do you learn from it?

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