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News / Life / Clark County Life

Read about TV instead of watching

By Jan Johnston
Published: June 15, 2024, 6:04am

Do you watch reality TV shows? Over the years I’ve tried a few – “Deadliest Catch,” “Project Runway,” “Top Chef” – but I didn’t have any interest in what I call relationship shows. I felt good about not following “Survivor,” “The Bachelorette,” and all of the versions of “The Real Housewives.” I justified what I did watch as having more focus on real jobs, creativity, and skills (like cooking) that I could potentially learn and do myself.

Well, guess what? I have finally capitulated to the gods of televised relationships by becoming irritatingly involved with “Married at First Sight.” I am not proud of this. The premise of the show is to marry a stranger and live together for eight weeks, and then decide to stay married or get a divorce. My brain says “crazy town,” and I can’t help the feeling that much of it is staged, but I can’t stop watching. My goal in confessing this guilty pleasure is to let others know it’s OK to watch reality television (even when it feels wrong). Also, I hope I’m not alone.

In celebration of this genre, here is a reading list to inform, delight, and possibly annoy anyone who has spent more than a few hours glued to the telly, both fascinated and appalled by reality TV.

  • “Cue the Sun!: The Invention of Reality TV” by Emily Nussbaum.
  • “The Lie About the Truck: Survivor, Reality TV, and the Endless Gaze” by Sallie Tisdale.
  • “The Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines.
  • “Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Inside Story of the Real Housewives from the People Who Lived It” by Dave Quinn.
  • “True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us” by Danielle J. Lindemann.

Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.