COMMENTARY | Our real world may not be as "real" as we think. Take, for example, the recent revelation that the HGTV show "House Hunters" and its cultishly addictive cousin "House Hunters International" aren't all that, well, based in actuality. According to Yahoo! Shine, houses are already purchased before the homebuyers are even cast; and in some cases, the "rejected" houses aren't actually on the market, one former guest told the blog Hooked On Houses.
Much like, I suspect, some "rejected" bachelors and bachelorettes on the respective reality dating shows.
"House Hunters International" particularly grabs you, and it's not really for the inane banter and backstories so questionable; it's a relief to discover they may have been made up. It's because the producers know how to showcase a city, and how to make you feel like you're along for the ride, which is exactly an HGTV publicist told Entertainment Weekly:
"Through the lens of television, we can offer a uniquely satisfying and fun viewing experience that fulfills a universal need to occasionally step into someone else's shoes."
I don't want to move to Dubrovnik, Croatia, for example, but it's a great place to explore for 22 minutes of television while someone else purportedly does.
But it's not just television creating lives no one is actually living. Jezebel reported that Lucky Magazine fabricated a reader quote to describe the extensive use she's gotten from a $750 little black dress she won from the publication. The problem?
She hasn't received the dress yet. So she probably hasn't used it as much as they said.
The cold, unvarnished truth is that our lives are boring. Our lives are so boring, we try to escape into other people's lives, be they Kardashians or bachelors "looking" for love, or people who are buying a new house.
But their lives are every bit as boring and mundane as ours are. That's the problem with being a person over being a fictionalized person: when we have to do laundry, it's not because we'll have a hilarious problem with a washing machine that will seem bad at the time but we'll laugh about later.
It's because our clothes are dirty.
Our dishes pile up in the sink if we don't wash them. Dust settles on the surfaces of our lives; everything isn't shiny or fascinating or perfect for very long. People stepping into our shoes for a moment would find they're very much the same as their shoes. They just may be a different style.
The revelation that my popcorn pleasure "House Hunters International" is only slightly more real than my endangered "Eureka" doesn't dampen the enjoyment. After the third woman I'd seen decided to open a yoga-and-surf retreat, I just had to research the demand for yoga-and-surf retreats, and I found her place, all right. Touting a string of awards that seriously call into question whether the timing described on the show was remotely feasible.
It didn't matter, though. I'd still spent a little under a half-an-hour touring boutique hotels possibly for sale in Bali, something I'm rather unlikely to do in real life. And it didn't take much detective work to surmise that they must have asked her to recreate her experience, because her business was clearly further ahead of the game than the show implied.
"Reality" TV isn't documentary; it's not supposed to reflect real lives. It's a realistic portrayal of fantasy lives, the kind we think everyone else is having.
But it's OK if we pretend they are for the span of the episode. Because then we can pretend, if only for a few minutes, that we could, too, if only we felt like moving to Dubrovnik.