Yesterday was the premier of The Real Housewives of Vancouver. The show stars five women ranging from self-made “mamapreneur”, Jody Claman to Ferrari-collecting Reiko Mackenzie (whose husband’s gangster past has recently been all over Canadian press). While I understand that reality TV is really meant for sheer entertainment, in a world where we already lack positive role models in the media, I find the premise of the show concerning.
The reality is, what we watch is not harmless. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the media we consume partially shapes our perceptions of reality and stereotypes. Some people are more media literate than others, however, there is a significant amount of people who absorb what they see and let such illusions shape their reality.
A show that highlights the allure, glamour and excitement of women who joke about being “gold-diggers”, living in excess and hosting Botox parties is not a positive influence. Period. First, it is not a realistic picture of what women, especially Vancouver women are about. I know an abundance of smart, independent, beautiful, kind and responsible women who lead extremely interesting and inspiring lives. They work hard, they care for their friends and families, they build businesses that contribute back to the world, they lead teams, they are mentors and role models to a younger generation of women. That’s a more realistic picture of Vancouver women – but unfortunately, there is no reality show on them.
Second, when younger girls watch these reality TV stars (most who made their fortune from marriage), what message does that send? When it is sensationalized as it is on the show, the message is “marry a rich guy and you can have a luxurious life like me”. Granted, the character Jodie promotes independence and working hard for the life you want to create, but even she has been outcast as the “bully” and “bitch” of the show.
I’m not saying that the women on the show are bad people, however, the entire concept and success of the show is based on revealing the cattiness, drama, lewd and shocking behaviour of the women. Without that, there would be no ratings. Since the goal of the show is to use such elements for its success – you can imagine that showing the positive and inspiring side of these women are probably not a focus of the producers.
One of the main messages of the show that, well, to be frank, disgust me, is the glamorization of excess. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice, quality things. But I don’t celebrate in my “stuff”. I am not impressed by materialistic things or fancy cars because at the end of the day, they are just things, albeit, shiny, name-brand things. It’s okay to enjoy luxury, but just remember that they don’t add to you as a person or make you any better. And, if people like you more because of those things, then perhaps you should reconsider whose opinions you actually care about.
My sister told me something a long time ago that really stuck with me. “Only impressionable people are impressed.”
I’ll conclude with this. Go ahead and watch what you want to. I won’t deny that some sleazy TV here and there can be entertaining and even comical. However, watch it with a lens of awareness. Don’t let what you see on the screen permeate your sense of reality. Don’t be so easily impressed. And remember that what you see is only a small part of the picture, so don’t take things for face value so easily.
Click here to read my article on Women’s Portrayal in the Media and Your Role In It