Don’t let TV be your reality

It’s time to stop allowing trashy reality shows to entertain us.

Vanessa Ramstack

Please take three seconds to ponder what is the biggest time waster in the procrastination tool box âÄî something utterly useless but somehow compelling enough to waste time on. Here is a hint: It involves “great” personalities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Yes, I am talking about the ever-present evil that is reality TV.

I used to regard Facebook and other social networking sites as the worst time-suckers in existence, but then I turned on my TV and flipped through channel after channel of reality series starring washed-up celebrities and desperate starlets almost worth remembering âÄî but better off being erased.

E! OnlineâÄôs top 10 reality shows of 2010 include gems like “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Jersey Shore” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

These shows and countless others like them shamelessly broadcast the lives of the semi-famous until we know so many unnecessary details most viewers could have written SnookiâÄôs recent book better than she could. Oh, in case you are looking for some Pulitzer Prize-worthy literature, her 2011 book is called “A Shore Thing” âÄî probably not trashy at all.

I would love to know what goes through the producersâÄô heads when scheming these series. It probably goes a little something like this: “LetâÄôs follow the lives of AmericaâÄôs privileged! That hasnâÄôt been done before. We must make sure their personalities are either unbearably spoiled or arrogant but leave room for a sliver of good nature to show during at least one episode. We canâÄôt have people thinking they are all complete barbarians. The episodes should appear to be unscripted, but really, we will have to help them along because otherwise there would not be enough pointless drama.”

Thankfully, there are a handful of reality shows that do not focus on the apparently fascinating lives of celebrities but instead follow the stories of regular people. Guilty as charged, I have watched competition reality shows like “Project Runway” and “Top Chef.” Even shows like “The Biggest Loser” have something going for them besides petty drama revolving around the events of last nightâÄôs party.

While mindlessly clicking through channels the other day, I came across a new series on ABC called “Secret Millionaire,” which places millionaires in impoverished communities incognito; the community believes they are filming a documentary. At the conclusion of each episode, the millionaire reveals his or her identity and gifts the community money.

Now thatâÄôs more like it! Here is a show that not only entertains but also concludes with philanthropy. Perhaps producers have lost their minds.

But, of course, there is a horrid new reality TV arrival to offset the small success of “Secret Millionaire.” Paris Hilton will launch the series “The World According to Paris” on June 1. The show will follow Hilton and her mother as well as her close friends. Hilton says the show will “reveal how down-to-earth and normal she is.”

I want to believe that deep down, people do not honestly enjoy these shows, not even for the shallow entertainment. ItâÄôs sad that instead of spending time in the sun or curling up with a good book, millions of people will tune in to watch HiltonâÄôs antics.

Please, for the love of sanity, shut off the television. If you are feeling gutsy, smash your TV. Go outside. Write a letter. Grab lunch with an old friend. You can make your life more worthwhile than Snooki or Hilton ever could. As Woody Allen once said, “In Beverly Hills, they donâÄôt throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows.”

 

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