I never really understood the promotions for television shows that started with, ‘Every once in a while a show comes along with the ability to change your life…’ These promotions are meant to entice the viewer to watch when the show finally airs three months hence. They ads are usually taken off the air at about the time the show is — four episodes in. Maybe this is because no lives were changed — just channels. I now think I understand this kind of advertisement, and I feel they should be used to advertise shows like A&E’s “Hoarders” and ABC’s “Super Nanny”.
When I watch these shows I feel good about myself. I know it is wrong to find pleasure in other’s struggles, whether serious psychological issues or parenting problems, and I am not so much finding pleasure as I am confidence. These types of shows give me self-confidence, as I am sure they do for others.
These programs make me feel as though my house, the living room riddled with stuffed animals, the kitchen filled with dirty dishes and the desk buried under weeks of research and library books, is not as bad as it could be. These programs allow me to feel like a good mother with the best of intentions and enough parenting skills to teach my children manners. These programs give me hope.
I realize it sounds a little crass to be overjoyed that life is not always rosy for others, and I recognize this will make me look like a bad person to some, but there are those of you out there who can relate. I know it. You may hide behind self-righteousness at being called out on it, you may play dumb and say you’ve never once smiled as Nanny Jo gave a parent a lecture, but you are out there.
I try to think of these shows not as reality TV, but as emotional support. When viewers are feeling down after an argument with their 9-year-old daughter because they won’t let her leave the house wearing a plaid skirt with ripped tights covered in equally ripped and filthy jeans they can turn to Nanny Jo and her time with parents who have it worse than they. When viewers are overwhelmed with dirty laundry and sticky floors, with no motivation to do anything about it, they can watch an episode of “Hoarders.” Knowing there aren’t dead cats buried beneath 2,000 pounds of trash on your living room carpet can allow you to relax a little and not get so stressed.
Call me insensitive or self-indulgent, if you will, but these shows are cathartic, and I hope the re-runs stay on the air for a very long time.