Lessons Learned from ‘Reality’ Television

October 1, 2011  |  
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I am proud to say I do not suffer from the current societal pathology that is Reality Television.

However, there are many who just can’t get enough. Unless you live on Pluto, you’ve heard of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The Braxton Family Values and the mother of all reality putridity, the Real Housewives franchise.

I’ve always thought you can learn just as much of what not to do by observing peoples’ dysfunction. You should simply just do the exact opposite of what crazy folks do. You don’t even have to buy any of those self-help or parenting books to teach you this stuff.

Take some of these reality lessons for example…

Lesson One from “Being Bobby Brown”: Your Children Watch What You Do.

If anyone ever had any doubts about whether or not the union between Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston was a slow train wreck, watching this show confirmed it all. The crazy was on full display, and I can understand how and why Bobby Christina has already experimented with drugs and spends money like it grows on trees.

Putting that mess on Front Street most likely contributed to the ultimate dissolution of their marriage that many (including me) wished to the heavens had never happened in the first place.

Lesson Two from “Being Bobby Brown”: Just because you’re the wife, doesn’t mean you should let your husband lead you (and your career) into a ditch.

“I didn’t know quite what to think. I knew I was trying to be Mrs. Bobby Brown… It was just difficult… I did it for him, I did it with him. How could you do a reality show – and I’m your wife – and not have me in it?” Houston said.  After Bobby, Whitney will never be the same. Never.

Lesson Three from “Basketball Wives”: Be an actual wife before you call yourself one.

Admittedly, I’ve never seen the show, but I hear the majority of the “wives” aren’t actually married. So I’ve made my point…

Lesson Four from the “Real Housewives” franchise: Keeping up with the Jones’ ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Before I go there, does anyone besides me think lip injections make women look like they should start quacking and grow some webbed feet? Anyway, I think we all feel sorry for the Beverly Hills housewife whose husband committed suicide, and the potential that their young daughter observed a lot more than she should have. But on the outside, with all the money and bling, one might aspire to that lifestyle, so teaching your child that everything comes at a price might be a good insert into the conversation.

Lesson Five from “The Braxton Family Values”: Stop living down to negative stereotypes!

Don’t black folks know when they are being exploited? I’m so tired of seeing black women playing up negative stereotypes for money, because you pseudo-starlets are selling us down the river–especially young girls, who are watching.

Lesson Six from”19 Kids and Counting”:  Sometimes it’s just better to close up the shop (aka “womb”).

We all watched with our mouths agape as the growing army of children Mr. and Mrs. Duggar kept cranking out, but the last child–born extremely premature and in need of serious medical care and extended time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, could lend a teachable moment about limits and when it’s time to stop already.

Lesson Seven from “Sister Wives:” Don’t be one!

Are they serious with this show? Four women sharing one so-called “husband?” Where are we, Saudi Arabia?


Christelyn D. Karazin is the co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race Culture and Creed (to be released April 2012), and runs a blog, www.beyondblackwhite.com, dedicated to women of color who are interested and or involved in interracial and intercultural relationships. She is also the founder and organizer of “No Wedding, No Womb,” an initiative to find solutions to the 72 percent out-of-wedlock rate in the black community.


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