Ode to Reality TV

Fact: I love me some reality TV.

One of the great sadnesses of my life is that I don’t have cable and can’t watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty.  And no, I’m not kidding or being ironic.  It’s true.  When I was at a conference in a fancy hotel with cable, I happened to catch a Duck Dynasty marathon.  And I watched all the episodes until late in the night.

Oh the shame.  Oh the greatness.  Oh the facial hair.

Reality TV is not just trash, either.  It can be educational – and not just shows like The Old House or Martha Stewart Living – whose entire purpose is to teach you how to install a deck and make foie gras. (Or if you’re like me, make you feel intimidated and unworthy of installing decks and making foie gras).

Because reality TV is enlightening and entertaining and necessary to life as we know it, I present to you a top ten list of things I’ve learned from reality TV.

1. How to negotiate.

I learned how to negotiate from watching Pawn Stars and American Pickers.  Seriously.

I bought an antique dining room table on Craig’s List a few months ago.  I knew I would need to negotiate a lower price, and negotiating is something that’s terrified me, so I thought about all the episodes I’ve watched of these shows and put them to use.  It worked!  Taking advice from American Pickers, I pointed out a few flaws with the table, named my price (which was lower than my goal price).  He agreed with my assessment and countered.  His counter offer was the amount I wanted to pay!  Success.  Beautiful dining room table for $225.  When I get around to refinishing it, I will show you pictures.

2. If you have a badatude, don’t expect to keep smizing.

Last year was the first time I watched America’s Next Top Model for an entire season cycle.  What impressed me most – apart from the instructive tutorials on smizing and booty tooching – was the fact that several girls who were good models with bad attitudes were eliminated.

Mama Tyra does not tolerate that.

3. Selling yourself is about facts not feelings.

The Professor and I enjoy watching Shark Tank.  Investors meet entrepreneurs, and if they like the ideas, they invest their own money.  One episode changed the way I present myself at work and the way I have interviewed.

A lady with a pretzel business met the sharks.  A shark asked her why he should invest.  Her answer was this emotional soliloquy about being a mom.  The sharks advised her to re-answer the question like a business woman.  She replied that she had to turn down a $2 million order because she didn’t have the capital to buy inventory.  That’s when she got their attention.  I think as women, it’s easy for us to answer fact questions with feeling answers, even in a professional setting.  In the end, we appear flighty rather than the multi-tasking powerful women we are.

I’ve carried that lesson with me and still think about it quite often at work.  The video is below, if you want to watch it.

4. Speaking of sharks – Shark Week is, was and always will be sacred.

When I was in college, I had a summer internship.  My coworkers caught on to my Shark Week devotion and teased me mercilessly.  Two days later, a little boy on vacation in Florida was attacked by a shark.  He beat the shark away based on skills learned on…wait for it…Shark Week.  I printed the news article and taped a copy to each of my coworker’s office doors.

Shark Week.  It might just save your life.

5. Play nice with your competition.

If you’re in the finals, odds are the eliminated contestants will be back as your team to help you bake 10,000 cupcakes or serve dinner to 200 people or make a fashion line.  Why is anyone shocked when this happens?

6. There are two ways to have a near-death experience on TV.

Fly in a tiny plane on a windy Alaskan winter’s day.  Or undercook Gordon Ramsay’s risotto.

7. If you’re going to reject someone, it helps to have a trademarked elimination phrase.

Say it with me in your best German accent: As we all know in fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out. Or Please pack your knives and go.  Or You’ve Been Chopped.

I think we should all come up with our own trademarked elimination phrase to use in every day conversations.  Like maybe I could end every conversation with, Accidental Okie has spoken.  Because that wouldn’t be weird.

8. Impress your friends with your vast knowledge of ancient Egypt and dinosaurs and dolphins.

Netflix has realized I’m a sucker for these types of documentaries and now puts them in queues with names like “Since You Watched Egypt: Secret of the Pharaohs.”  Now I can casually slip pithy things like, “They used to think that velociraptors had scales, but new evidence suggests they had feathers,” into conversations.

9. The following things are real:

Big foot, sea monsters and stereotypes about people from New Jersey.

10. My house is not as dirty as I thought.

If you only have 15 minutes to clean your house, you could in fact clean for 15 minutes and accomplish a bit.  Or you can watch 15 minutes of Hoarders and realize that your house is spotless because of the simple fact you don’t have grocery sacks of poop piled high in your guest room.  And that’s a win.

The Accidental Okie has spoken.

Now’s your turn – what’s your personal elimination phrase?  What’s your reality tv guilty pleasure?


  1. My elimination phrase would simply be “You’re done”. As far as guilty pleasure reality tv shows…that would be Hoarders (and its copycat program Hoarding: Buried Alive). It makes me want to scrub everything…a couple of times. My other favorite reality show isn’t on tv, but on YouTube. A guy named Shay Butler (shaycarl) has been posting daily vlogs featuring him, his wife, and his kids for the last 3 (nearly 4) years. His vlogs are just his family’s daily life. No scripted drama…just a guy being a dad and kids being kids. The kids are cute, and the parents are fun crazy. I highly recommend checking it out (Youtube.com/shaytards).

  2. LOL So glad your famous odes are finally making an appearance!

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