Mom, Me, and Reality TV

By Jaclyn Jermyn

Courtesy of FYI Network

Courtesy of FYI Network

I haven’t had cable television for nearly a year. It’s just one of those expenses that seems silly when you have the entirety of the internet at your disposal. But I often feel a small twinge of sadness when I can’t flop down on the couch at any given moment and flip through the channels in search of a Golden Girls marathon. 

I know I don’t need need TV to make me happy but there’s such a (possibly) unhealthy pleasure in old fashioned binge watching, commercials and all. That’s why, I often end up abusing the privilege when I stay at my parents house. Being on vacation and having few responsibilities affords me the luxury of ignoring all of the hiking and biking and mountaineering I could be doing. The real lost opportunity would be not taking advantage of a comfy couch with countless throw pillows, a fully stocked pantry, and a wide array of high-definition channels.

This holiday season, I discovered the wonders of both Esquire and FYI networks. Esquire broadcast marathons of Parks and Recreation three days in a row (including the final seventh season that until today, had not been on Netflix). FYI network created a glorious piece of television called Married at First Sight.

The premise is sort of outlined within the title— so-called “love” experts (in the areas of relationships, sex, religion, etc.) act as matchmakers for six individuals, matching them into three couples that will agree to get married without knowing each other until reaching the altar. Seriously, they have to introduce themselves somewhere between the “sickness and in health” and the “I do.” 

The premise was ridiculous and yet, astonishingly captivating. I was hooked within the first 10 minutes of watching. My mom was hooked within the first 30. 

The important thing to note is that enjoying reality TV wasn’t about the substance, because truthfully, there wasn’t much to go on. It was a chance to hang out with my mom for an extended period of time and talk in coded language about our ideals of happiness, love, and marriage. 

My mom met my dad when she was in her early 20’s, getting married and having me by her mid-20’s. They’re still happily married, unlike the parents of so many of my friends. I don’t know what she expects of me. I can only assume that she wants me to get married someday. I know I want to get married someday. So we watching strangers on TV pick out their wedding dresses and get ready for their big day. She remarked how the backyard, with it’s view of Lake James, a state park, and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, would be a pretty place for a wedding. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought the same thing before. 

As much as people say that reality TV rots your brain, I can’t help but get a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I get a minute to watch some. I thought about all the times we would watch Say Yes to the Dress together and those wedding design shows—there was clearly a trend happening. I didn’t feel pressured though. I was more than happy to keep watching Married at First Sight with my mom for the rest of the afternoon. I think this is just our own low-maintenance version of mother-daughter manicures or lunch dates and I don’t even have to leave the house.