Sizzle This: Should Reality TV Just Go Away Now?
In ‘Sizzle This,’ The Swaddle team adds to the noise around the pop culture moment of the week.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say we saw this coming, but what could we do about it except watch it unfold? ‘Indian Matchmaking’ participant Pradhyuman Maloo was recently accused of domestic violence by his wife, Ashima Chauhaan. The two weren’t set up by Sima Taparia (from Mumbai), but appeared together on the show as a happy couple before the wedding. Nevertheless, the development raises questions about why an occurrence which seemed like a logical conclusion was aired globally as entertainment. Is this a problem with just ‘Indian Matchmaking,’ whose very premise is questionable — or does reality TV as a genre itself deserve to retire now? Here are The Swaddle team’s takes.
SM: Reality TV is the toxic ex you keep going back to. We all know it should go away, but we all feed it.
AT: Reality TV shows ask for the least amount of critical engagement and promise pure entertainment to people, which is probably why they’re so popular. Honestly, I think people deserve to indulge in a guilty pleasure. I don’t think we should be doing away with them. Even the crassest of entertainment can prove to be a lesson, like in this case. But some shows tend to pass off shitty behaviour and problematic actions/views as entertainment — maybe that should change.
SA: Reality TV is not realistic or rational. It’s supposed to be entertaining and slightly mind-numbing. ‘Indian Matchmaking’ and a bunch of similar shows do just that. Like every other genre of entertainment, you’re free to opt out and not watch it. But to say it deserves to retire is ridiculous. Of course, the rise of docu-reality blurs the lines, but I think it’s safe to say Sima Taparia and the show’s crew members cannot predict what the other cast members will go on to do once they stop filming/airing. And yes, a bunch of us mocked and pointed out the red flags we saw, but they’re two adults who decided to get married anyway and that’s not Netflix, Sima Taparia or the reality TV genre’s fault. It’s not the showrunner’s responsibility to ensure the cast behaves appropriately in real life. That’s on them. Some people are terrible in reality shows, and in reality. And that’s just that.
AS: Reality TV is not reality – it’s scripted drama and everyone knows it. It’s voyeurism, a guilty pleasure, and superficial entertainment all rolled into one binge-worthy watch. The problem lies in how the genre equates entertainment with championing the most objectionable behavior – because that’s what sells. The genre itself is not going anywhere. But maybe it’s time to take stock of the toxicity and harmful behavior that is being fed to us under the guise of entertainment.