It seems to be the most common theme of reality TV -- true love finally found. But is it possible there is any reality to the love matches made on reality TV (and isn't the term "reality television" an oxymoron, anyway)?
Dr. Wendy Walsh: My answer is -- probably not. The real point of reality television shows is to create something entertaining to wrap around the commercials. Producers are more often asked to schedule "train wrecks" -- yes, that's a common TV technical term, and it means some kind of emotional injury that results in the display of big tears or anger. Apparently, that is entertaining to us. So, under such pressure, could real love bloom? No way.
Recently, there was news that "Bachelorette" contestant Ed Swiderski is romancing other contestants, and even sent an e-mail to one saying he had just wanted to win the contest, even though he's not attracted to "Bachelorette" Jillian Harris. Jillian is now his fiancé. Ouch!
Here's his quoted e-mail: "You know, I never took this thing seriously. In addition, I've let the director know that I would be doing the show for the wrong reasons as I am not, in any way, attracted to the chick."
The truth is that the very dynamics of a reality TV shoot make real love building absolutely impossible. Let's start with lack of privacy. How could two people ever reveal the most intimate parts of their personalities to each other with a TV crew standing around them? And not only are they limited to what I like to call their "performance personalities," but they are also asked to do retakes if they say something juicy and it was missed by the cameras on the first take. I know this. I've participated as an "expert" on reality shows. Retakes are commonplace.
Finally, as Swiderski's e-mail reveals, the motivations of reality show contestants are usually not based on some desire to find a soulmate, but rather a strange need to be seen. Reality shows are jam-packed with people who have some clear unmet needs for attention that may even border on a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Need I explain that diagnosis? We've all met the person who lacks empathy, compassion, and basically doesn't even know that any other human is in the room.
For these injured babies (literally) who probably suffered from some kind of maternal neglect, the camera, lights, and makeup team entourage become a kind of surrogate mommy. It is the show itself that these personalities are in love with. The actual "love interest"? Just a prop. My advice to Jillian ... if you love the limelight, stay with him. If you love HIM, run. He's probably bad news.
|Dr. Wendy Walsh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and her area of interest is Attachment Theory, a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for understanding interpersonal relationships between human beings. As a psychological assistant registered with the California Board of Psychology, Dr. Walsh has treated individuals, couples and families for a variety of mental health concerns including personality disorders, anger management, eating and substance disorders, and depression.|