During 2020 I developed a guilty pleasure which is that I have been watching—and loving—cringeworthy reality TV shows streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and TLC.
It all started with an age-old relationship challenge whereby my girlfriend and I were running out of movies and TV shows we both liked, to watch together on the weekend. With classics like When Harry Met Sally and Star Wars out of the way, I felt there were only so many Thor-like superhero franchises and sappy romcoms to put up with before reassessing our stay-at-home entertainment strategy.
It was around this time when, serendipitously, Netflix’s algorithm recommended I watch Selling Sunset, a reality show set in Hollywood that follows elite real estate agents selling “the luxe life to affluent buyers”—produced by the same person who helped bring MTV’s reality shows Laguna Beach and The Hills into early 2000s pop culture.
The show was so scintillating I watched half the season straight away and when I suggested watching as a potential date-night activity, it was an instant success.
The rest is history. Selling Sunset gave way to 90-day Fiancé gave way to Kitchen Nightmares and so far we have yet to begrudgingly agree to watch something on behalf of the other’s desires. The researcher in me wonders one thing given this personal experience: how many people per year start watching reality TV as a direct result of a partner/significant other? Does anyone have any data to share on this subject, anecdotal or otherwise? Let me know by reaching out via LinkedIn.
– Lee Sumner, Research Director