Stop Making Couples Reality Shows
I was scrolling through my Instagram "Explore" page when I saw a video of Teyana Taylor, Iman Shrumpert, and their adorable daughter Junie. I clicked the image to find they were discussing their soon-to-be reality TV show 'Teyana and Iman', in which they will broadcast their relationship for the world to witness. A feeling of disappointment came to me as I thought to myself, another one bites the dust.
The young couple will follow in the reality TV footsteps of the OGs before them: Bobby and Whitney, Tiny & T.I., Jessica and Nick, Travis and Shanna, Carmen and Dave, Britney and Kevin, etcetera. These are all pairs who aired their laundry—both dirty and clean—and later divorced. I know it’s entertaining to watch our favorite celebrity couples in their element but I think our society’s obsession with the rich and famous, particularly their romances, is detrimental on micro and macro levels.
When we watch these couples on our TV screens and devices week after week we internalize their habits and mannerisms and apply them to our personal relationships. We start to develop expectations of how our own partnerships should play out. I’ve seen it happen not only with couples’ TV shows but reality shows in general. I truly believe shows like Bad Girls Club, Love & Hip-Hop, and Real Housewives have made women cattier, more judgmental and less supportive of each other. How often do we hear someone say a unique phrase and then start casually repeating it amongst ourselves? I’ve heard it from Khloe Kardashian’s “Okrrr!” to Evelyn Lozada’s “non-factor”. If something that small can seep into our day-to-day habits, imagine what bigger effects television programs have on us.
In a 2016 article published on Inverse.com a study was presented in which psychologists discovered that “the more status-oriented people are, the more likely they are to view reality television and report pleasure and enjoyment.” I can’t lie—watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a guilty pleasure of mine (though I think it’s great that they show an unbreakable family bond). I don’t know what the solution to this is but I think acknowledgment is a good first step. I miss watching scripted TV families that had a concise plot with relatable [i.e. not rich & famous] themes.
Of course not all reality TV couples are trash. Rev Run and his wife Justine always kept their MTV show “Run’s House” classy and cool. I never watched “LaLa’s Full Court Life” but her marriage to Carmelo didn’t collapse post-TV. Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt just had their first child. This post isn’t to say couples are doomed after they appear on national TV. I just wish producers would fill time slots with less invasive programming, even though the couples are willing participants.
While I’m apprehensive about their coming show, I hope it brings blessings to the Shrumpert family. I hope Teyana’s and Iman’s show moves us in a progressive direction. I’m optimistic that the viewers will be conscious and mindful and look for a deeper understanding of these humans, and not a surface-level one.