‘Reality’ TV (Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Real Estate Shows)

We accept the fact that reality TV isn’t actually real. Of course there’s editing involved. And the contestants are usually manipulated into situations where there’d be the most drama. Most of the people are just acting up for the cameras to get the most air time so they can parlay their B- and C-list fame into a book deal or brand of cocktails. I’m sure once the cameras are turned off, The Situation and J-Woww have a spirited debate about the national debt, as they are wont to do.

I'm sorry, TV. Let's never fight again.

And that’s fine. Actually, that’s more than fine. That’s escapism, baby. We don’t watch reality TV to get an introspective look at our selves and society. We watch it to watch very attractive and semi-literate people make out in the hot tub so we can forget for like five minutes about that work presentation to the CEO we made today where we had a piece of spinach in our teeth the entire time.

But, recently it came out that House Hunters, the popular HGTV reality show which follows a different couple every episode who look at three homes and then pick which one to buy, is fake. And, man, that one really hurts. In actuality couple has already purchased the house at the start of the filming, and the other two houses are either houses they considered buying, or just plain random. This isn’t some flashy match-making, singing competition, rat-eating (do people still eat rats on reality TV? I was always to squeamish to watch those) show. This is a nice show about real estate that made the home-buying process look stress free. It’s supposed to show us how easy a time we’re going to have when we look for a new apartment or house as well. It’s not supposed to be fake!

Although, after we sniff our smelling salts and un-clutch our pearls, maybe we can realize that this is a good thing.

Finding a place is stressful, even just a new place to rent. You have to worry about finding a place that suits your needs. And after you find a place you like, there’s still credit checks and sometimes board approval reviews for rentals. Or getting approved for a mortgage for a condo or house. Reality TV makes it look easy. So here’s even more stress when it’s not for you.

Plus, with Pinterest and decorating shows on TV and real estate magazines, everywhere you turn there is an onslaught of real estate porn. Everything looks beautiful. Everything is designed and painted and straighten and looks like heaven. In short, these beautiful real estate images are designed to make us feel bad about ourselves. It’s like those air-brushed and photoshopped models on magazines–we know that people can’t look that beautiful in real life, but it still doesn’t stop us from hopping on the treadmill while simultaneously weeping into a pint of Haagen Dazs (Mint Chip is the best for self loathing, while Rocky Road works best for a breakup. I don’t make the rules).

And it leaks into our subconscious. Recently, while looking for new apartments, I was disappointed that I couldn’t get a two-bedroom near shopping and restaurants with a view of the water that had hard-wood floors, vaulted ceilings, a separate room that could be used as an office and built-in floor-to-ceiling bookcases in my price range. (Besides the fact that it doesn’t exist.) Everything I looked at, which would be perfectly fine, was just “meh” in comparison to what had been built up in my head.

And I’m certainly not the only one. On some of these real estate shows, I’ve seen people turn down a place based on the color the living room was painted. (And, yeah, who would want to live in a pea-green living room, but still, that can easily be changed.) We want our apartments and houses to look like those glamour shots that have been styled by a designer and clearly have not been lived in.

So it isn’t as easy to purchase property as we were led to believe by reality TV. Now we know. (And knowing is half the battle.) We can go back to laughing at the people on the show.

And all is once again right with the universe.

-Jessica Fiur, News Editor

Photo credit: svetlin rusev