This past month, I’ve got myself into a tizz and I’ve tried to combat that through the medium of reality television. It didn’t happen intentionally. My sister had an operation and while she was recovering on the sofa, I would often notice her streaming the dreaded Hayu app. I’d get glimpses over my shoulder – an argument here, a slanging match there. And I’d tut under my breath and get back to cooking my dinner/frantically searching for something good on Amazon Prime. But really, all I wanted was to sit with her and watch something we could both enjoy.
So I delved into The Real Housewives of Orange County too. Before we knew it, I was fully engrossed in the storylines, the drama and I’ve been streaming it on my phone whenever I can, since. I’m obsessed with how glamorous Heather Dubrow is. I adore her charasmatic plastic surgeon husband, Terry. I think Vicki is fascinating. I can’t believe how angry Kelly gets and I enjoy Meghan’s resilience. I love it because it’s so far removed from what I know. It transports me to a sunny climate in the middle of a miserable February England. I haven’t had plastic surgery. And my London flat is, to my despair, not a Malibu mansion.
I read a column from a very respected journalist that stuck with me. She talked about her love of watching old episodes of Made in Chelsea, describing the ‘pure joy’ it gave her. She discussed the reason behind revisiting these episodes – she knows where they all end up and so could enjoy the old-school drama while safe in the knowledge that it was all going to turn out A-OK. Sure, there would be broken hearts that needed to heal, friendships that required repairing and one too many bar brawls. But everything, after a bit of time, would go back to its normal self. And people would eventually have better things to do.
I’m a staunch believer of good TV. I’ll always try to recommend the best shows and films that provide more nourishment than reality television. Because reality TV can often feel like junk food. You devour it, you enjoy it. But you feel guilty afterwards. And I don’t know if it’s because we’re effectively watching a middle-class version of The Hunger Games or because these producers are a bit devious. Whatever it is – you know, in the long-run, that a series like Grey’s Anatomy would be better on the old soul. But I also hold my hands up to the fact that this show has made me happy. It’s provided me with some on-screen friends when I’ve felt stressed. And if a show – any show – can bring people together like it did with my sister and I, then I’m all for it. Having a pickle of a day? Stick on some Tamra and Shannon action and forget all about your troubles.
Just make sure you wash it down with a heavy dose of a good Netflix series. (And exercise and socialising and telling your family you love them).