Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reality (TV) Bites

This morning I saw a random tweet from Andy Cohen of Bravo TV, wherein he expressed his condolences to Taylor Armstrong and family.  Of course, because I had no immediate idea who Taylor Armstrong was, I did a Google search and discovered that I did know who she was because she had been a Beverly Hills Housewife.  Apparently, her estranged husband had committed suicide.

I am no expert, but wow...I think the show killed this guy.

Just last week, I read in People magazine that the RHOBH cast member had filed for divorce from her husband, alleging mental and physical abuse.  Now again, I am not an expert, but I think there is a precedent here for reality show divorces: Jon and Kate Gosselin; Hulk and Linda Hogan; Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston; Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson; Greg and NeNe Leakes (RHOA); Christopher (Peter Brady) Knight and Adrienne (Top Model season 1 winner) Curry; Kelsey and Camille Grammar; and a bunch of other folks whose names do not immediately come to mind.

And so umm, when will people get it?  Marriage is hard enough without the glare of a camera shining the light, recording and then broadcasting everything for the outside world to see.  The problem is that some TV executive, not the two married people, is in charge of the editing and gets to decide how your marriage will be seen by the rest of us.  No need to run through the list above to highlight the specific dysfunctional elements the camera captured, but in the case of the Armstrongs, there are judgmental comments being posted right now about how she drove this man to hang himself.  Diagnosis by a bunch of remote control marriage counselors...

I feel sorry for everyone who goes on one of these shows.  I feel sorry for their children.  I decided to stop watching the entire franchise this Spring after the big wedding fiasco on the RHOA...there were other contributing factors as well, but the fact that the bride's mother and sister conspired *on camera* to derail the ceremony, but then it very neatly got resolved...I was done.  If my real life was available for full episode recaps on Bravo...

I cannot begin to know what led Russell Armstrong to kill himself, but I am not surprised that someone finally fell off the cliff.  When humiliating info about us gets revealed, most of us can wait it out until the dust settles, but a reality TV personality cannot escape it.  The spotlight is unrelenting.  Hell, some of us in the real-real world cannot escape or endure the scrutiny--the public outing of Tyler Clementi by his college roommate led him to jump off the George Washington Bridge last year.  I can only guess that Armstrong finally arrived at the darkest place where the stress of his pending divorce and his money woes were just too much to bear.  And again, I am no expert, but I suspect Jani Lane and Jeff Conanway both found that same dark place...

The train wreck of someone else's life may provide an hour or so of entertainment, but imagine if those were your house drapes open for all the world to see inside.  Or in some cases, what happens when after living in front of the camera for so long, it gets too difficult to live without a million people watching?  Can we go back to the soap operas where the people on screen were just pretending to be dysfunctional?

God rest the souls of Russell Armstrong, Jani Lane, Jeff Conaway and every other tortured soul.

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