I say this while I also admit to watching a few train wreck shows myself. And I am not talking about the FoodNetwork, HGTV, Dancing, Amazing Race, Survivor, Amercial Idol type shows that are about a ‘challenge or a talent’. I am talking the ones you don’t admit you watch. The Kardashians. The ‘Real’ Housewives, every actor/actress/singer/dancer trying to rebuild their career who are exposing themselves and their family to us….the list is so long I can’t even name them all. And a new one pops up every day.
The ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ is especially tough to watch. It is like watching a family reunion gone wrong. Yes Italians can be that emotional, that loud, that passionate, that forgiving and eat that much food. But really, I don’t think it shows the best we have to offer most of the time. (I won’t even comment about the other Jersey show).
The one that causes me the most sadness is Teen Mom. While I like the idea of putting the topic front and center I don’t like what it is doing to the young women. And frankly I am tired of them and The Secret Life of the American Teenager telling everyone that a condom makes stds and pregnancy 100% preventable. Really? I have clients who would beg to differ.
I have watched Teen Mom since the beginning so I really only follow the first group of girls: Maci, Amber, Caithlynn and Farrah. I find it interesting that the healthiest duo seems to be Caitlynn and her boyfriend who chose adoption. It DOES show youth what a wonderful and healthy choice this can be in an unplanned pregnancy and it is not about being selfish or ‘giving your baby away’. It is about realizing what is best for your child sometimes even if it is not you. So kudos for that.
But then there is the tragedy of watching Amber fall apart right before our eyes. It is hard watching this young woman in a rehab facility knowing that many of her sessions are being taped. I cannot even imagine going through that painful private process with cameras. I feel like we are doing something very, very wrong by watching. I am heartbroken that MTV has taped this whole thing. At the very least, they should be paying for her rehab as the filming really did not help her state of mind. It is even worse knowing that she is already in jail so you just watch the show waiting to see when she gets to that horrible desperate decision. I started watching it because so many teens were so I wanted to see what they were being exposed to. Now it is like an accident I cannot look away from. But I really want to. It isn’t edifying for the young girls and it isn’t for me.
I am sad this is what our youth has as options on TV. Of course when I started typing this today I didn’t even know we lost a dear man who knew what a good TV show was about. Andy Griffith, they broke the mold and you will be missed. I am glad that you were teaching Opie when I was growing up vs what I see for ‘parenting skills’ on TV today.
Reality TV is barely even real with some of the fabricated scenes; but the impact on those young minds and those watching is real. Too real.
Renee Rizzo is President and CEO of Hope Clinic for Women. She feels passionate about helping all people; especially women who have been hurt or broken, realize there IS hope, and that God has a purpose for each one of us.