I like television on the whole. My novel The Generation Game was largely influenced by the telly of my childhood and adolescence. I often have the TV on low as background noise while I work. It keeps me company as writing can be a lonely business. I’m generally good at filtering out the rubbish and perking up when I catch the odd word or image that lures me in.
Now, I thought I’d got over reality TV long ago but something has got me hooked this late summer … The Real Housewives of New York City. I think I am actually addicted to it. ITV 2 at its guilty-pleasure best. I’ve never watched the British equivalents The Only way is Essex or Made in Chelsea and I don’t plan to. Earlier in the summer I caught some of The Real Housewives of Orange County but the women in that show were not memorable. They all had long blond hair and boob jobs and I couldn’t tell them apart. In looks or character.
The New Yorkers are much more individual and I know there is no such thing as true ‘reality’ on these programmes but there is something about these women that is intriguing. OK, so I’m only up to season 2 and reading ahead it looks like it will all kick off but I’ll hang on in there.
So… a guilty pleasure. We all have them. Some of us may not actually feel guilty about them. We might not care what other people think about our pleasures. Some of us are more secretive and coy. And for good reason.
Should we admit them? Remember what happened to Ross in Friends?
Chandler: Y’know what? We’re not sad, we’re not sad, we’re just not 21 anymore. Y’know? I’m 29 years old, damnit! And I want to sit in a comfortable chair, and watch television and go to bed at a reasonable hour!
Joey and Ross: Yeah!
Joey: Yeah! And I like to hang out in a quiet place where I can talk to my friends.
Chandler and Ross: Yeah!
Ross: And so what if I like to go home, throw on some Kenny G, and take a bath!
Joey: We’re 29, we’re not women.
So should I have admitted to watching TRHONYC? It could be worse – I could like Jeremy Kyle or Kenny G. And in my defence, I have grown out of Big Brother and X Factor. Maybe I like the Real Housewives because they are my age and I hanker after their high life in New York City. Maybe it’s like watching Dallas back in the day. All that glamour and rivalry… But Dallas was fiction. Maybe the Real Housewives is basically fiction too. Who knows what goes on in the editing suite? To be honest, I don’t really care too much how much is real. My job is writing fiction. And in every piece of fiction you can find some truths about life, if you look.
I’m making excuses now, aren’t I?