I am a television junkie. I love watching international television programmes, especially reality shows. What makes reality television so captivating and addictive is that they show case characters that go against our norms and perceived social reality.
One of my favourite shows on the channel, Discovery Home & Health, is “Jon and Kate plus 8.” This couple, Jon and Kate, have eight children which exceeds the number of children an average family usually have in today’s society. As Jon and Kate could not conceive on their own, they made use of fertility treatments and ended up with one set of twins and another set of sextuplets. This programme breaks the social norm as raising one child could already be a hassle to many and to have eight children would be eight times the hassle.
If you think having 8 children is absurd enough, another show airing on Discovery Home and Health is “19 kids and counting” chronicles the life of a family having 19 children. Being a religious family, the Duggers decided to let God determine how many children they should have. I am sure many people like me would be questioning how this huge family functions. How could they afford feeding 19 mouths? How do they do their laundry? Do the parents ever get tired?
Watching “Jon and Kate plus 8” and “19 kids and counting” tackle challenges of raising multiple children is admirable indeed. Especially in today’s world, where the social construction perceives children as a liability instead of an asset.
Another favourite television show of mine is “Survivor.” The idea of being stranded on an island for and stripped off basic needs like food, water and toilet facilities might seem outrageous for most of us. “Survivor” challenges participants to break off from the modern world and undergo a series of tests. The last person remaining on the island becomes the “Sole Survivor” and wins one million dollars.
While a handful would be willing to sign on the show, the rest might cringe at the thought of staying at a lost forsaken place even though one million dollars is at stake. It requires one to go way beyond their comfort zone and venture into the extreme wilderness. As I watch each episode, I would also start my own prediction on who would be the winner. There was one season of Survivor where teams were divided based on gender. Gender is socially constructed in a way that people have the perception that the winner emerged would be a man, since men are perceived to be stronger and tougher people compared to the women. But the ultimate winner of that season was a lady.
Television programmes that challenge our perceived social reality on certain things can educate and widen our perspectives. So now all of us have a good reason to watch television, don’t we?