The Three Basic Reasons We Can’t Stop Watching Trash

Why smart people love trash TV.

My Kitchen Rules Reality Television,, crowd ink, crowdink
My Kitchen Rules Reality Television (source: Inside 7)

“I’m so excited to watch Married at First Sight tomorrow night!!!” – a real life quote from a real life friend with a real life brain.

Crickets buzzing.

This friend is smart, witty and does not come across as a trash watching simpleton. Which is why I was shocked and admittedly a little judgemental when she unveiled her excitement about the first episode of Channel Nine’s latest reality show, to which she was brutally met with the painful buzz of crickets as I stood mouth agape, poorly disguising my disgust at the sentence that just came out of her mouth.

Usually people hide their love of crap TV. They answer “The 7.30 Report” when asked what their favourite show is, or something universally loved like Game of Thrones or something quirky and award winningly witty like 30 Rock or The Office.

My Grandma says she watches the Bold and the Beautiful every day at 4.30 not for the indulgent storylines, but for the flower arrangements and extravagant sets. Okay Grandma.

Basically, people don’t parade their excitement for low-brow television around shamelessly. But back to Married at First Sight-

20 strangers, 10 couples, one hell of a ride.

Whilst I haven’t watched the show I have seen adverts so I know enough to know its premise- couples are coupled by a team of experts and made to get married at first sight, as the cunning title suggests. They then live together all in one big house and presumably cheat on one another, learn of love and loss and find themselves. Kind of like travelling except dumb.

But are there even that many people watching these shows?

Well, yes.

820,000 people tuned in on Monday night to the first episode of the show’s fourth season.

1,309,000 flicked to My Kitchen Rules on Channel 7 and 959,000 to Channel 10 to see I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Does your heart hurt as much as mine does right now?

These shows are raking in the numbers and damaging brain cells across the nation- however if so many people are watching, then they can’t all be the simple silly sausages I imagine them to be.

Just like my dear friend, a good portion of those numbers must be intelligent, worldly and bright people.

So why do we watch?

I can only think of three reasons.

1. Escapism
2. Relatability
3. There isn’t much else on

After a long day at the office, there is something charming about gathering around the couch after dinner, reaching for the remote and unwinding with a little reality TV.

The shows are easily digestible, don’t provide a large amount of confrontation or brain stimulation and are generally accessible to viewers.

Shows like The Bachelor conjure lavish worlds most could only dream of. Masterchef and MKR show that anyone can go from a home chef to a pro chef with the help of some middle aged, confusingly hot celebrity chefs. And finally, shows like Married at First Sight offer the hope that love is not merely a lie and if strangers can make it work then so can you!

The third option is that there simply just isn’t anything else on and mindlessly watching something, probably with an IPhone in one hand and IPad in the other (known as triple screening- thanks RMIT) is a nice way of distracting yourself from your ultimately pointless existence.

Didn’t see that coming did you? It got a bit heavy there didn’t it?

To quote Kanye, “I’m sorry for the realness.”

I might go and lighten up and forget this realness by hypocritically watching some reality television instead.

It seemed to make 820,000 people happier on Monday night after all.