No doubt there are a whole slew of reality TV shows with no redeeming value to society. Just Google “popular reality TV shows” and you will get pages and pages of gems such as “Swamp People,” “Bad Girls Club, “Duck Dynasty,” and “Pawn Stars.”
I would give a quick synopsis of these shows, but I didn’t care enough to read them. Today I was on the treadmill watching Entertainment Weekly and there were four ex-wives of various celebrities who are going to be starring together in a show called, “Hollywood Exes.” I’ll wait while you go throw up.
However, there are also reality shows out there that I love and believe are great educational tools and contain positive messages for kids. My personal fave is "The Biggest Loser." I find this show very inspirational because it shows the obstacles real people face in a quest to get healthy. There are no quick fixes, just hard work and determination. I have to say there are days when I don’t want to get up and go to the gym, but I think, “If that 400-pound woman with diabetes can get herself out of bed for spin class, so can I.”
My family actually watches "The Amazing Race" together. This is an awesome show from an education standpoint. The most obvious positive is that it teaches about world cultures and geography, a subject that is barely addressed in most American schools.
To succeed, contestants have to work together with a partner, be tenacious, and think outside the box. Along the same lines, "The Apprentice" gives kids an interesting take on the world of business. In this show, the contestants also need to be creative, competitive, and work together with a group to accomplish tasks. In addition, it showcases the importance of good leadership skills, public speaking and attention to details. Is there some excessive drama? Sure, there is always drama when you throw a bunch of people together to complete tasks, which is a reality in both classroom and work environments.
The talent shows like "American Idol" and "America’s Got Talent" create certain teachable moments. I love when they show the stadiums full of people waiting all day to audition. It doesn’t send the “anyone can be a star so drop out of school, quit your job and got for it!” message many may think. It shows the very high level of talent necessary to “make it” and, even then, most of those people don’t have a shot given the intense competition. It all depends on how you approach the subject with your kids. It is a good time to talk about risks vs. benefits with your child, so basically economics.
Even some shows that seem to have no redeeming value can be life lessons and open the door for discussion. For example, those bachelor/ette and various housewives shows, which I find repulsive, open the door to discuss relationships, self-esteem, and common human decency. Viewing how these nutjobs treat each other can very effectively bring home the “don’t be like this” message. It’s really all about watching the shows with your child and using them to open the lines of communication.