A Letter to Reality Shows

I like you.  At least some of you.  Now we all know that you have the power to skew reality and thus making your shows only semi-reality, but I still like you.  I love watching relationships form. I hold my breath as the non trained take to the dance floor.  I cringe while gossip destroys.  I cheer when a new voice is discovered.  And I often cry, hearing the back story of a person’s life.

I love that you have discovered that peoples’ stories matter.  Chances are, you discovered that ratings are higher, when you give voice to a persons story, but, nonetheless, you share with us something so precious.

The other night, I came across one of your shows, The Voice.  I miss Cee Lo, by the way. Anyway, it is fun to watch the blind auditions, but it is the story before the song, that I love to know. Before the singers nervously take the stage for their hopeful big break, there is always a little bit piece that summarizes their life and how their life shaped them to pursue singing.  In the twenty minutes that I happened to be watching, two of the singers had lost a parent at a young age.  A few days later, I happened across another reality show, with a similar format, But the stories before the acts were similar. Every time a person shared their stories of parents lost, I cried.  As in, I for reals cried.

Now . . .  to try and explain why I was crying so hard.  I’m not completely sure myself, but I’m going to try and break it down.  First of all, it is so amazing to see kids and adults arrive on a national stage, with such a powerful story of loss, yet it is what pushed them and inspired them to reach for their dreams.  Oh, it makes me cry now.  One of the contestants was on a car trip, when her mom suddenly died of a heart attack while at a rest stop.  Her mom was always telling her she was going to be a singer.  And look at this young lady now.  She took what she knew of her mom and planted it into her heart and it grew until she was standing on stage, singing from the depths of pain and redemption with the most beautiful, soulful, joyful heart. Not two people later, a girl lost her dad at a young age.  Again, the depth of this young lady was tangible in her voice.  These real stories encourage me.  These stories remind me of a song by Crystal Lewis, that you will only have a slim shot at knowing, if you grew up going to youth group. It starts off with, “He gives beauty for ashes, strenth for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair.

Another possible reason for my tears, is that I know this pain, will be with us forever.  None of the constestants kept dry eyes while talking about their parents they had lost.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I still cry when I think about the last moments with my old golden retriever, Hudson, so I know there is no hope for me.  The crazy thing is, that these tears are not bitter.  They touch a warm tender spot that will remain warm and tender forever, but they remind me, that love never ends. Some of these contestants lost parents decades ago and yet, their eyes still well up with tears. What if that didn’t happen?  Now, that would be so sad.

In fact, this summer, I happened to be vacationing near the grave of my grandparents.  I never got the chance to know either of them.  My grandfather died when my dad was only 20.  I felt like I was on the Amazing Race as Leah and I attempted to locate the correct grave stone, but when we finally found it, a tender moment grew.  Underneath me, were two people who I knew loved me, even though I had never known them.  It was so strange.  When I texted my dad, and sent a couple pictures, he admitted to having tears in his eyes upon seeing them, even though his parents have been gone for decades.  See.  Love never ends.  And I love that.  And I love to know each person’s story, in real life and even on semi reality shows.

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