When the reality TV craze began with shows like Survivor and American Idol, et al., I barely noticed. I just wasn’t interested. If I wanted to watch a competition, I was more than happy to stick to sports–football and baseball specifically (I’ve never cared for basketball or hockey) with a binge every two years on the Olympics.
That, however, was before we discovered Food Network. It started, innocently enough, with a friend of ours pointing out that her son (also a foodie like my youngest) really liked a show called Iron Chef America. We watched a couple of episodes and, although we enjoyed its campy silliness, we weren’t exactly hooked. But then we happened to see another Food Network program called Worst Cooks in America and, OMG, from there, the obsession snowballed to include Chopped, Next Food Network Star, and Next Iron Chef. God help me, the HOURS I have spent watching cooking competitions and salivating helplessly is just immense.
The thing about reality TV I’m discovering, however, is that you can get sucked in even when you are avowedly, absolutely, 100% NOT INTERESTED in whatever the subject of the program is. My latest obsession of this variety is a show on Discovery called Gold Rush. As you might guess even if you haven’t seen it, it’s about gold mining. It’s set in Alaska and features some of the most relentless and wanton destruction of nature I’ve ever witnessed. They dig up literally thousands of pounds of dirt for a few ounces of gold. It’s kind of insane.
But…I can’t look away. Partly, it’s because I’m absolutely charmed and impressed by one of the miners the show is a following, a 17yo kid who’s operating his 91yo grandfather’s mine and desperately trying to save the claim. This young man is just so bright and mature while at the same time exhibiting all the impatience and moodiness you expect of a teenager. Somewhat amusingly, most of the adult miners are just as impatient and moody as the kid, but without the excuse of youth.
So, what about you? Do you watch much reality TV? If you do, what show or shows hooked you in? Are there any that you know you shouldn’t like but like anyway?