Maybe We’re Looking at the Wrong Numbers

The media is masterful in its efforts of creating headlines that strike fear in the heart of all Americans, especially if the news is bad. From the Labor Department’s unemployment numbers to the “independent” bodies exploring the truths behind health care, finances and the economy, those headlines are what make us click the stories. But what if we’re focusing on the wrong numbers? What if we allow so much of this carefully concocted “truth” seep into our minds and hearts? It’s little wonder Americans are feeling more isolated than ever before – we can’t compete with what the media insists our lives should be. We read the headlines, but little more.

Once you shift perspectives, just slightly, you can begin to understand a more reality-based truth. And the truth is more of us are redefining our lives based on what we want, not what the media or the government insists we want.

During the darkest days during the recession, the network shows that fared best were the ones that brought affluence into our homes. The most successful were those shows that revealed money doesn’t buy manners, taste or common sense. Of course, I’m referring to Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise. Those were the shows everyone was watching – so much so that a new city was being added every season. It started with Orange County, took a trip to New York (Real Housewives of New York City ratings were down a whopping 20% this season), New Jersey, Miami, Beverly Hills and even included a DC franchise.  The women on all of the shows were catty, mean, wealthy (even if it was illegal wealth they enjoyed) and just enough ego to convince themselves that no matter what editing did to their scenes prior to airing, they looked great while doing it. Passive aggressive souls that humans are, the viewers loved it because it gave us the opportunity to scream at the TV with no fear of going to jail for, well, you know…that pesky free speech part of the Constitution.

Now, though, the entire Housewives franchise (with the exception of Atlanta) is suffering from massive drops in ratings. They’re dropping faster than Teresa Giudice’s confidence that she and her husband will escape jail sentences for bankruptcy fraud and other federal finance laws.

If we’re no longer watching grown women makes asses of themselves, what then, are we watching? Maybe the more important question is which networks are we watching? Take a look–

Alaskan Bush People is one of Discovery’s newest families. It’s unbelievable – as in fake. Until you get past the first episode, begin a bit of research and see that indeed, these people are not actors, they’re not sugarcoating their truths and what you’re seeing is a true reflection of how they live their lives. Want proof that this is gold?

And let’s talk about Dual Survival. Allow me this disclosure – I’d marry Joe Teti in a heaven’s heartbeat. He’s everything that men should be: assertive most of the time, aggressive when he needs to be; has the ability to make the hard choices; has lived life in such a way that he has a perspective most will never know and he has common sense and self-discipline. Like the Brown family in Alaska, this show – and especially Teti – has its share of haters. And that’s OK. It keeps the networks focused on the importance of the viewers; and specifically, what the viewers don’t want.

There’s one particular scene that’s real and raw and powerful. This clip leads you to that moment, but if you want to see what happens, here’s a link. It looks like someone filmed it from their TV screen, but fair warning – it’s gruesome, not because of the kill, but because of the mindset of Teti. He’s seen the darkest of war and human nature and this clip is quite remarkable. Note his face and his eyes in the seconds following the kill.

And by the way – these nature/survivalist shows? The demographics reveal close to half of the viewers are women. I don’t know why that is, but it speaks volumes about women and their priorities. No longer do we care about spoiled women with too many handbags and instead, we’re focusing on the fascination of life without modern conveniences. Maybe we’re drawn in because it’s so far removed from how we live our lives (just as the Housewives franchise is also far removed from how we live our lives), but the difference is that many of us sense some type of authenticity. Will any of us – man or woman – ever have to find our way out of the Sri Lanka jungle? Well, I mean, I will…as soon as I pull the brownies out of the oven, do my makeup and turn the AC down because the hot rollers and hairdryer heat up fast.

The point is it’s fascinating. It’s a break from whatever it is the media’s selling and hoping we’ll buy. More importantly, these shows and those who agree to have their lives followed for weeks and months are the ones we all want to be. They’re the ones who say to themselves, “To hell with the government, the media’s bought and sold to the highest bidder and I’m sick and tired of paying for honey when I know I can find the source at that old abandoned building on the river.”

And just to drive that home – there are many new shows headed our way that focus on living off the grid (that phrase is going to be one of the 2014 catchphrases and don’t look for it fade away anytime soon).

Turns out, we really don’t care about following despicable greed, competitive women who are always looking to outspend their best friends and who have no concept the English language. Click here to see Teresa (who was completing her second cookbook, by the way) annihilate the word “ingredients” in one of last season’s episodes of Real Housewives of New Jersey.



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