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Summer Reality TV: The Obsession Returns….

It’s almost that time of year again…the one where I become far more introverted and way less interesting, because I’ve become absorbed in the all-encompassing drama that is Big Brother.

For those of you who don’t know me, or don’t know me well, I love reality television. It’s not because I’m a dramatic person by nature (which I am), or because interpersonal drama and psychological insights into others interest me (they do….I probably should have been a psychologist.), or because it’s over-the-top fun (it is.) I actually didn’t get into reality TV when the rest of my generation was loving the Real World.

Reality TV only became real to me because of Big Brother, and because I had the fun and once-in-a-lifetime experience of going through the audition process for Season 1 of the show. (I’m showing my age, since they’re on season 14, but had I been cast, I’d have undoubtedly been the youngest person on the season, so I’m not that ancient yet. ;p) I made it to the very end of the process, which gave me an interesting insight into what goes into putting together a reality TV show, and gave me an appreciation for the genre. A cross between scripted drama, soap operas, game shows, and having cameras turned on your everyday life, it takes a certain kind of personality for reality TV. There’s also a lot of psychology that goes on in casting a reality show (most of them seem to believe in the Meyers-Briggs/Keirsey inventories in determining how people might interact); if you inadvertently pick the wrong person, the entire season can become boring and lifeless. (at least three seasons of “Survivor” have suffered this problem). If the cast gets along too well, if there’s never chemistry between people, animosity between people, the show isn’t something anyone cares about.

The “right” person isn’t always the loudest, the best looking, the smartest, or the most personable…though, undoubtedly, they try to get one of each. It’s no coincidence that many shows begin with 16 people, corresponding to the 16 Meyers-Briggs types. The trick is to get the most interesting person of each type, and to create diversity, especially when the show is centred around interpersonal dynamics.

Along the way, they’ve expanded casts of most popular shows to as many as 20 and as few as 12, but 14-16 seems to be the magic number. It’s a trick I’ve taken away for planning successful dinner parties. *laughs*

I never did re-audition for the show, or any other reality show, after going through the process. Part of it is that I felt like I was far too sensitive for the level of public scrutiny and judgment that goes along with even one day on reality TV. I have friends and acquaintances who have been on reality television shows, and one in particular had a very rough time of it in life after being portrayed in a way that emphasized one aspect of her personality, in order to paint her in a certain light. It is show business, after all—but people forget that, and when the show was over, she wasn’t met with love or treated kindly. Part of it is that I simply realised I’m not all that interesting. *laughs* I wonder if there will come a time when I put myself out there again, just for fun, now that I’m older, wiser, and still every bit the drama queen. :;

What did come out of the experience is a great love for Big Brother, even if it is the trashiest of the CBS reality franchises. (The main reason I wasn’t cast for the show was the charm and likeability of a fellow actress and Playa attendee named Brittany Petros, and I still wanted her to win! *laughs*) I watch every season, and yeah, I’m totally into all the drama and nonsense. Even the boring stuff is somehow entertaining, in a weird way. I have conversations with friends about the show as if I’m discussing people I know. It keeps me from gossiping about my real friends. :P *lol*

Although I never re-auditioned for the show, I felt like an overdramatized version of me did, and made a huge impact upon the world of reality TV. If you took everything about me and turned it up a few notches, you’d have something kind of similar to Rachel Reilly, the glittery and flamboyant redhead who cries at everything, but has an impressively competitive spirit and determination to give haters the proverbial finger. I really like Rachel, although I don’t know her, I don’t know anyone who knows her, and the only interaction I’ve had with her has been of the virtual variety. I think, in real life, she’s a person I’d enjoy….albeit perhaps in limited doses.

As most of you know, I spent most of last summer being seriously ill…too ill to leave the house, or even the bed, for a significant chunk of it. I couldn’t have much of a social life, and felt too vulnerable to face other people. In between, there were trips to the emergency room, scary drugs, terrible side effects, and a lot of time spent wondering–because even specialists didn’t seem to know what was wrong with me— if I was going to make it through the summer. It really was one day at a time for me, and even that was hard.

There were a few things that got me through that time in my life, but as weird as it sounds, Big Brother was one of them. I remember being in the hospital one week when the show was on, and saying, “I think if Rachel doesn’t get voted off this week, when it seemed certain she would, it’s a sign I’m going to be OK.” No logic behind that at all, except I somehow identified with this person who was putting herself out there on reality TV every day, and being judged quite harshly…a cross that’s tough to bear for an insecure person. I know what that’s like, and how perplexing it is when it turns out that “just be yourself” doesn’t equate to everyone liking you.

Of course, the summer ended, and I survived…and slowly recovered. And Rachel Reilly went on to win half a million dollars, despite being ridiculed by pretty much everyone, often including her fiance.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, of course, it’s because the new season of Big Brother is airing beginning next Thursday, and if the media day footage and other rumours are to be believed, one of the cast members was dropped at the last minute to make room for three returning duos.

I’m actually pretty excited at the prospect of another season of Rachel and Brendan, and potentially Evel Dick and Daniele. Certain personalities just make shows more interesting, and for me, it’s always the people other people find less than endearing, annoying, or downright villainous. Maybe it’s just because it’s been my experience in life that these are my people—misunderstood, intimidating to others, and full of emotion and insecurity.

So, maybe I’ll never decide I should attempt to be on reality TV, or become a public figure in any capacity—I have far too many skeletons in the closet and people who’d be too happy to talk to the tabloids about me :P —-but I’m going to keep on cheering for Rachel, and hoping CBS continues to use her in their franchises. Someone’s got to represent the temperamental redheads of the world, and show that we may be loud and crazy and hard to keep under control, but it doesn’t matter one bit. The world doesn’t need to love you, after all, for you to succeed at whatever it is you do. It just needs to pay attention.

This year, BB14 will have to share my attention with the Olympics, which also start in a few weeks…but that’s another story for another time. I hope The Guy I’m Currently Dating is up for more nights in with me, the remote, and some Moe’s. *lol*

Fortunately, I have a DVR. :P

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