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When I had to quarantine upon my return to London, I spent a lot of my free time immersed in TV shows and movies. While I loved watching documentaries that helped me learn more about the world, time and time again I found myself sneaking back to my ultimate guilty pleasure- The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

It is a reality TV show that follows several wealthy women living in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of several spinoffs of The Real Housewives franchise, and has the highest rating out of all of the spinoffs. It follows their daily lives – including their romantic relationships, the progression of their careers and the complex relationships with their fellow housewives. Upon watching the first episode, I felt rather bored, I mean, why would you want to watch two women sipping mimosas and getting their hair done? Yet, as the season progressed, I was captivated by the witty one-liners and the insane storylines (think a woman lying about her due date and friendship contracts being burned).

Reality TV shows like The Real Housewives franchise or Love Island draw millions of viewers, however why are we so interested in the lives of people we don’t know? I’ve found something cathartic in seeing other people fight with anyone they come into contact with. It’s as though seeing people fight about the most stupid things makes my own problems feel insignificant. Reality TV is just that – reality (minus the several scripted scenes), and there’s something so interesting about seeing people like us doing things we do – advancing in their careers, falling in love, falling out with friends. On paper it seems so boring, but you can’t look away.

Researchers believe that many people who watch reality TV do it because they too have a desire for fame. Unlike actors and singers who find fame due to their notable talents, reality TV stars are regular people. To be one you just need to fill out an application form and have an appetite for drama! I personally find the lack of privacy and relentless trolling that comes with fame too much for me to want to be famous myself. However, on the show, it’s lovely to see so many successful Black women succeeding in life, particularly in a country with such a large racial wealth gap. Their drive and ambition is admirable.

Telling others you watch reality TV often leads to responses of distaste. Many people even believe those who watch reality TV are unintelligent. Yet, for many people it’s a guilty pleasure, an escape from one’s mundane life.

 

Helena is a first year at King's College London, studying global health. Though her family lives in New Jersey, she grew up in South West London. In her free time, she loves creative writing, making too much pitta bread and watching true crime documentaries. She loves sunny weather and is always looking for an excuse to head to the beach.
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