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Lessons (or Anti-Lessons) from Reality TV

There are days when I shoot for deeper, more profound topics. With “reality TV” in the title, you can probably guess today is not one of them.

Obviously, reality television is a broad spectrum from shows like The Amazing Race and American Ninja Warrior to the likes of  Real Housewives and that family with all the K’s in their name. I’m speaking more to the latter group.

It’s popularity has waned some, but our screens are still consistently inundated with people longing to become instantly famous (or prolong their fame) via a reality TV show by exhibiting ridiculous behavior and zero inhibitions.

According to many, this is what makes for “good TV.” The more out of control, the better–or so it seems. Decent folk could never technically condone such atrocious, destructive, and narcissistic behavior, but many of them wouldn’t dare miss a week of the carnage either.

What lessons can we glean from these colorful characters? we can clearly see that

  • Being drunk beyond all reason is much better than knowing your limits
  • Fighting over the tiniest infraction gets you more screen time and ups the drama
  • Doing whatever it takes to “win” in a competition may make you the villain but you will be famous
  • Consistently crazy/bizarre behavior will make you infinitely more watchable
  • You must shed all self-control and self-censoring–in fact, just focus on self-centeredness and you’ll be fine

Proverbs 30:15 & 16 tells us,

“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ “

Perhaps if this were written today, the author would have included the insatiably fame-hungry reality TV star in this list… perhaps.

The rules for “reality” above may yield eyeballs for TV screens, but they are an awful way to live life. The next time you are faced with a moral dilemma, it may be helpful to ask yourself, “what would a reality TV star do?” then do the opposite.

Self-control may make for bad reality TV, but it makes for great Christians. The amazing thing is that it’s not simply up to self at all. Self-control, of course, is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5; it’s one product of a yielded and surrendered life to God.

Like a city whose walls are broken down
is a man who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)

You may not be on TV. You may laugh at the ridiculous antics of those in the reality TV hall of fame, but what does your life look like “off camera.” How’s your self-control when no one is looking?

As that verse in Proverbs indicates, someone lacking self-control is unprotected and inviting destruction.

Whether it’s your speech, your habits, your indulgences, whatever–are you living self-control? Are you reverse reality stars? Do those closest to you see this fruit or is it just a show for the people?

I definitely want more Holy Spirit fruit of self-control in my life–time to surrender to grace.

What are your thoughts on this? You ever had a “guilty pleasure” reality show?  Or do you have a favorite in the reality TV genre?


  1. Thanks for this post. I’m going to start thinking of what reality stars would do then do the opposite. Reality TV has gone from bad to worst. I think everyone should read this post. Thanks Jason!

    • Yeah, misguided people can make quite a mess. 🙂 Thanks Jaylynn.

  2. Yep! When we see how reality stars act, we should run in the opposite direction! We no longer get “live” television, though we can watch shows via Hulu and Netflix. My husband really likes Survivor, but there are no other reality shows we follow.
    Great points made here, Jason!

    • I definitely think the competition ones are different (even if they aren’t totally reality and the drama can be played up somewhat). Oh man, it’ll all suck you in if you let it! 🙂 Thank you, Martha.

  3. Good one, Jason. I can’t stand reality TV. I don’t mind the competition type like sports and even the cooking ones, but the life drama ones are intended to attract like watching a train wreck.

    I also find that people that watch those shows tend to become more dramatic and controversial. No peace there!

    • Yeah, it’s just too much. And it does make sense that the more we invest, the more we would live our lives like what we’re watching. No thanks on that! But thank you very much, Floyd. 🙂

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