I don’t consider myself a big fan of reality TV. What I know about reality doesn’t at all resemble the scenes I see play out on these television shows and therefore not reality. At least not my reality. And certainly not any kind of reality I would aspire to or desire. No thank you. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get sucked in once in a while. If there’s an episode of Hoarders (a reality TV program about individuals who suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder) on, you can be sure that I’ll plant my fanny down and watch every second until the show ends. (Hoping there isn’t another episode coming on right after this one finishes.) I’m not proud of this fact, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’d like to think I find Hoarders to be motivating but mostly I just find the episodes to be fascinating and cautionary.
My husband loves the show “The Voice.” You know the one where four judges have their backs to the stage and push a button (to turn their chair around) if they like the voice they hear (or at least find enough potential,) and would like to coach the artist. Two of the consistent judges are Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. The other two judges rotate by the season. Currently, the other chairs are occupied by Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson.
Since Leroy is a big fan of the show, (even though he once banned American Idol from our household when Taylor Hicks was named the winner in Season 5,) I am subjected to episodes of The Voice playing in my home. Leroy saves the shows on DVR and watches them (usually) the next day (since it comes on so late at night and we go to sleep so early.) We’re usually in bed (me with earplugs in, reading a book, writing, or fast asleep with an eye mask.) This works for the most part until I get a glimpse of something happening on the screen that I can’t ignore, or the music is so loud, I can’t help but listen to the song. I cringe each and every time, but it’s like a car accident and I can’t look away. Occasionally Leroy will ask me to listen to a song because he likes it, or he thinks I’ll like it and more often than not, all I learn over and over again is that we have very different tastes in music. (His is terrible and mine is exceptional.) I’m convinced he’s tone-deaf.
So even though I hate the show, I end up watching parts of it each and every season and each time I’m left with lingering questions:
1. Why is Adam Levine pouting all the time?
2. Does Kelly Clarkson realize how much she talks?
3. How does the host, Carson Daly deal with the stress of waiting with the families? And what does he say to console them when no one pushes a button?
4. Why hasn’t Shakira returned? (She was my favorite.)
5. Do the contestants really end up liking their fellow artists and the coaches at the end of the whole show (as portrayed?)
That’s the reality I want to understand.
There are many things I hate about the show. I hate the delayed response when a contestant is choosing a judge. I hate that they make you wait through a commercial for the results. I hate it when a contestant attempts to sing an Adele song or anything by The Beatles. I hate it when they show the families anxiously waiting in the wings. But mostly I hate it when no one pushes the button and turns around. That’s the worst. That’s when I have to walk away (or banish Leroy to the living room to finish the episode.) I can’t stand the awkward feeling of empathy. Even if they are terrible, I still hate that no one would give them a shot. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “everyone gets a trophy” kind of girl. As a matter of fact, one of the other things I hate about The Voice are the changes they implement each season just to make the contest seem more fair. I just don’t like to watch someone go through the pain and disappointment of not getting chosen and I don’t understand anyone who would enjoy it.
Everyone on Hoarders gets a chance to change their life. Everyone. Not many of them are able to follow through, but at least they have a chance. They are surrounded by family and friends who want the best for them (most of the time) and professional assistants and advisors to help along the way. The contestants on The Voice are only guaranteed a chance. And even if they do get a chair to turn around, they know they are only pawns in a game. The main objective for the coaches is to win the game with the most popular singer. (Not necessarily the best singer, just the most popular.) The coaches know their part. They will pit one contestant against the other (as the game dictates) until they are left with the one who holds the best chance at winning (in their opinion.) Everyone knows the rules and how the game is played. There are no surprises. In the end, the chosen winner is the most marketable. Not the best singer, or even the most improved. It’s the artist that can sell.
Maybe, I’ve got it all wrong. I should look at the show as inspirational. Have I ever wanted something so badly I would risk everything just for one shot? Would I be willing to put myself out there just to compete even though I know that the process may not be fair (based on talent) or free from bias? Each and every one of the individuals that audition for The Voice go into the experience with a dream and a lot of work behind it. They are passionate and they are brave and I have a lot of respect and admiration for those two characteristics. I must learn to cheer for the victories and encourage through the defeats. I need to learn to accept the criticism of a professional (working in the field) even when I don’t agree with the opinion. I must learn to never, never, never give up, even when the answer is no. I must learn to pick myself up, understand what I’ve learned and do it again (and again, and again if necessary.) That’s passion. That’s achievement. That’s experiencing the journey and not just the destination. Ultimately, that’s life. And that’s why I’ll keep watching.