I’ve been watching Netflix’s reality dating shows this past week. I’m absolutely obsessed with the Nick and Vanessa Lachey properties in which twenty and thirty somethings do preposterous social experiments because they want to be married that badly. I’ve now watched Love is Blind and the Ultimatum.
I’m not typically a reality show person. I’m a yuppie startup bro living in the golden age of prestige tv. I like expensive scripted dramas and the media has provided me with ample options. But I’ve often wondered how much I’m missing out on popular culture by avoiding reality television.
I’ve got girlfriends who are obsessed with the Bachelor but I’ll be honest I’ve never been able to focus on unscripted tv. I admire the hell out of the product empire the Kardashians have built but I’ve never actually watched their anchor television show. There is clearly a deep cultural cross current that reality television has in America and I’ve largely let it pass me by. Well except for having to live through the Trump administration.
I’m particularly interested in how these reality shows reflect our cultural desires. I wrote this week about how the vibe shift is showing an emerging camp of right wing counter culture. The single minded obsession with marriage and traditional family structures in both Love is Blind and the Ultimatum make me think they both reflect the cultural power of traditionalism. Twenty five year olds offering ultimatums to their partners that they must get married now is a bit wild to me as a geriatric millennial. It was considered a bit retro to be married before 30 during the Girlboss new left Obama years. That’s clearly changed.
I’m curious what else is changing culturally that will be reflected in reality television. Love is the most universal so perhaps I’m projecting a bit on the medium. Maybe marriage is easier to transpose onto unscripted television. But I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of other traditionalist vibe camps that will arise on America’s favorite entertainment genre.