Tori Spelling, former Beverly Hills 90210 TV actress and daughter of well known television and film producer, Aaron Spelling, takes her broken heart to reality TV. After seven years of marriage and four children, Tori is telling all in her new series entitled, True Tori.
The premise of the show? A cheating husband goes into treatment and we ask the question, “Can this marriage be saved?”
As a couple therapist, this is not the venue to discuss your very private issues, especially when you have four very young children. Is anyone thinking about the impact on the children one day? Imagine one of the kids in sixth grade who hears, “Oh hi! You are the kid whose dad cheated on your mom and they talked about their sex life on TV.”
This need to spill our private lives to the public through social media, websites, and reality television creates a lack of boundaries in peoples’ lives. It also creates a society of voyeurs who thrive off the misfortunate and psychopathology of others. It’s simply TMI (too much information). And that information is most often a false representation of truth because the truth is less entertaining that manufactured drama. Yet that drama gives permission to be rude, obnoxious and aggressive in real life.
Most disturbing is the idea that a person can reach celebrity status by airing their dirty laundry to the public, e,g., The Real Housewives of….you name the city! Rather than working hard or positively contributing to society, we have a generation of people who now think bad boy/girl behavior will make them profitable if they can just get it to the public through any type of media. It appears that good guys do finish last when it comes to viewer ratings.
Of course, reality TV is anything but real. Thus, the argument that these shows teach us about human behavior doesn’t fly. A better argument is that these shows teach us how to write a scintilating script that encourages bad behavior and often shows unbridled human emotion. Shocking the viewer is the goal and this requires exaggerated story lines similar to the life of someone diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. In fact, these shows provide ample opportunities for me to teach my students how to diagnose!