by NATALIA HAWK
Pretend you were an alien who’d just landed on earth and the only way you could learn about this strange human species was to watch reality TV shows.
Very quickly, this is what you’d learn: there are only two types of women in the world. They are extreme. And a lot like caricatures.
And there’s only one type of bloke. He is not very extreme. He is just awesome.
The women of reality TV are stereotypical, one-dimensional and mostly figures of disdain, derision or cheap laughs. And here they are:
1. The “Cartoon Babe”
There is one word that describes the “Cartoon Babe” and that is EXTREME. Extreme looks, extreme personalities – and extreme Botox. They are the characters who love a catfight, have their plastic surgeon on speed dial and make very poor choices when it comes to life decisions such as “who are my real friends?” and “how many hair extensions are too many?”
Producers of reality tv are very careful to ensure that the Cartoons don’t have conversations that aren’t either really bitchy or completely vacuous (makes them less car-crashy, you see).
2. The “Ditzy Babe”
Unlike type 1, the Ditzy girls are generally not presented as completely cray-cray, which is a good start. They like things like shopping and shopping and sometimes they go to fashion school. While they are invariably pretty and invariably sweet, they also go through life completely baffled by the majority of situations they find themselves in. Often, an entire season plot-line can revolve around a Ditz trying to work out why a boy doesn’t like her back.
Unfortunately, actual problem-solving can never be involved as this might result in the show accidentally exposing some female intelligence and initative. This results in a lot of scenes with two girls sitting on couches with wine continually staring off into space and saying things like, “I really just don’t know. Yeah.”
Examples: Gabi from The Shire, who wants to be back with her boyfriend but he’s not really sure and he invited her to a party and WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Also, Lauren Conrad of The Hills fame, who went through the better part of five seasons wondering why everyone was so consistently mean to her.
And now for the one type of guy:
1. The Guy.
The Guy is always the cocky, good-looking type who has a real one-up over all these crazy, ditzy girls in terms of intelligence and self-esteem and, well, everything. Usually The Guy is a surfer or basketballer. Sometimes he is a rap star too. The Guy likes to meet up with other Guys and talk about how crazy and ditzy the girls are being. The End.
COMMUNITY SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
Cartoons and Ditzy Babes might make for great tv promos, but in no way do they actually reflect real women.
The real women I know are complex. In less than five minutes they can go from talking about climate change to the new shoes they bought over the weekend. They might have hair extensions AND love Jane Austen. See? Complex.
But these women could never be on a reality tv show, because they don’t fit into either of the aobe types of reality TV woman.
So why do producers insist on only showing these two types of women? It’s nothing against the Vernersa and Lauren themselves because I’m sure that they probably DO have other sides to them. But the shows in which they appear seem to have no interest in reflecting anything other than the most simple version possible.
I know that we can handle complex characters because there have been PLENTY of them in fiction, in film and in television over the years. So why doesn’t that transcend to reality television? Why do we keep getting fed these stereotyped caricatures that we’re supposed to believe are real people?
Aussie men are reflected in aspirational shows like Bondi Vet and Bondi Rescue while women get Being Lara Bingle and The Shire.
Take a look at this video from the documentary Miss Representation to see just how damaging reality television can be…
Kerry: When she's not running Beach Burrito, Kerry is riding the rollercoaster of romance with Spock.
Do you watch reality tv? Are you sick of seeing the same characters portrayed in the same ridiculous way?