Reality Check


In 2001 I thought it was a fad. I didn’t think it would last. I gave it two, three years at most.

But I was wrong. Eleven years later Reality TV Shows are still with us.

Let me be clear from the start. I make a clear distinction between reality shows like Dancing With the Stars and shows like Survivor and Temption Island.

Dancing With the Stars and American Idol are entertainment. They are not my cupppa of tea. But these types of shows are not the focus of my rant.

Also let it be known I like TV. There are many good programs on TV. I never subscribed to Newton Minnow’s belief that TV was a “…vast wasteland….”  He made that speech way before reality TV shows. I wonder what he would think and say today.

As you may have guessed by now I am not a fan of Reality Shows on television. First of all the term,  “Reality Show,” is an oxymoron. These so called reality programs are scripted, manipulated, and no more real than the tooth fairy.

They are cheap for the networks to produce and they rake in the money. So since greed rules today’s society they are not going anywhere any time soon.

My first problem with these shows is that I find them boring. They are just not interesting to me.

When I watch TV I often want escapism. I live in reality most of the day and a bit of escapism is relaxing and entertaining before bed. For those times that I want to get information there are great documentaries on several of the channels that I can and do watch.

My second problem with these shows is I really do not wish to watch or participate in the crude, vulgar, and arrogant betrayal by one person of another person for personal monetary gain and fame that happens on some of these programs.

These shows are too often just glorified Game Shows on steroids where there are winners and losers. Some critics have compared Reality Shows to the Roman ancient gladiator games.

It scares me that the participants in these programs, and I have to assume some of the die-hard fans of these shows, enjoy watching the misfortunes and humiliation and de-humanization of some contestants on these shows.

Furthermore, I do not wish to be a voyeur to some narcissistic Prima Donna or Prima Don when he or she does not get his/her own way; nor do I wish to see or hear their tirades, narcissistic temper tantrums, or fits of rage over life’s normal ups and downs. If these folks need their fifteen minutes of fame that badly they can get it without me watching.

There is a lot of expressed concern about these types of programs by TV and societal critics. But little hard research.

In 2001 Steven Reiss, Ph.D., a professor at Ohio State University and James Wiltz then a Ph.D. candidate at OSU did do some research.

They conducted a detailed study of 239 people using the Reiss Profile, a standardized test of 16 basic desires and values.

From their research they concluded that for regular viewers of reality TV the chief motivator was a desire for social status /self-importance.

In an interview for an article published by the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Dr. Reiss said:

Only slightly less strong was the need for vengeance, which leads to vindication. “Some people may watch reality TV partially because they enjoy feeling superior to the people being portrayed,” Reiss said. “People with a strong need for vengeance have the potential to enjoy watching people being humiliated.

In the same APS article Mary Beth Oliver, who has been studying reality TV since the TV 1980’s TV show, Cops, said:

Reality television requires viewers to disengage from the suffering of other people or to derive enjoyment from it.

You can read the entire APS article, Reality Check, by clicking the link. [Yes. I shamelessly borrowed their title for the tile of my post.]

I am extremely uncomfortable with TV shows that in any way shape or form dehumanize anyone and that makes lack of empathy and betrayal of another human being entertainment and the norm in America or the world.

There has been far too much of that kind of behavior and treatment of people in the history of this world. It is time we reach a higher plane.

Featured Recipe        Stuffed Baked Potatoes

One of the neatest things about stuffed potatoes is there are endless varieties. You can stuff your potatoes with anything you want. This recipe lends itself to easy substitutions. You can use what ever kind of cheese you want, substitute any cubed meat for the bacon, or make it entirely vegetarian. You can substitute any vegetables for the broccoli and cauliflower.

At first glance this recipe might look like complicated.  It is not. All you have to do is bake a potato, hollow out the potato, make a filling, and add the filing to the potato.

Served with some soup and/or a salad this potato recipe can be a very inexpensive, easy to make, and filling meal.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

This is what you will need for 2 people:

2 baking potatoes

Vegetable oil

4 strips bacon

1 small onion

2 tablespoon butter

¼ cup sour cream

4-6 ounces chopped up broccoli and cauliflower

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

¼ cup Swiss cheese, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

Bake the potato either in the oven or a microwave.

Oven baking:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash the potatoes. Prick them with a knife or a fork. Rub about a teaspoon of the vegetable oil over the entire surface of each potato. Place on the rack of your oven and bake about 50-60 minutes. Place a baking sheet on the rack beneath the potatoes. (If baking 4 potatoes add 15 minutes to the baking time.)

Microwave baking: Wash the potato and prick it with a knife or fork on both sides. Micro wave on high for 5 minutes. (If microwaving more than 3 potatoes at a time increase initial cooking time to 7 minutes.) Remove and test to see if baked through by poking with a fork. If it is still hard in the center, microwave for 1-2 minutes longer.

Many microwaves now have an automatic potato baking feature. I find that these often over or under bake the potato or worse yet, unevenly cook the potato. For that reason I usually bake my potatoes in the oven.

While the potatoes are baking prep all of your stuffing ingredients:

NOTE: Baking the potatoes in the oven also gives you time too prep everything else. If you microwave your potatoes, do all of these prep steps before you cook the potato.

Fry the bacon. When crisp remove, place on paper towels to absorb some of the grease and crumble.

Dice the onion and sauté in the bacon fat until soft and lightly browned.

Wash and steam your vegetables. 

Let the veggies cool a bit and then chop them into small pieces.

Place the butter in the bowl you are going to mash the potatoes in.

When the potatoes are done let them cool just slightly, enough to be able to handle with your bare hands.

Then, using a sharp knife cut off one-fourth of the top off the potato.

Then very carefully, scoop out the inside of the potato leaving about one-fourth an inch of potato around the outside edge so that they maintain their shape.  Place the pulp in the bowl with the butter.

When all of the potato pulp is in the bowl add the sour cream and salt and pepper to taste.

Mix everything together with a wooden spoon first.

Then add the browned onions.

Then using a mixer or hand held masher, mash the potatoes and onions together.

NOTE: I do a rough mash. I do not get the potatoes all soft and fluffy. A little lumpy in this recipe is good.

Then add half of each of the cheeses (2 tablespoons of each cheese), the bacon*, and the vegetables to the mashed potatoes and mix well.

*NOTE:  I reserve a few of the bacon pieces and top the finished potatoes with them.

Using a spoon pile the stuffing into the potato shells and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

NOTE: You will most likely have left over filling. You can make more baked potatoes the next day or just use it as a side dish for another entrée. The left over filing is also good for making veggie-potato pancakes.

Place back into the 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes to warm everything up again. For the last minute or two I turn on the broiler to get a little brown on the cheese.

Remove fron the oven and sprinkle with the reserved bacon pieces if you reserved any. 

Serve with soup or a salad.

Bon appétit!!!


2 baking potatoes                             $1.00

Vegetable oil                                    $0.01

4 strips bacon                                  $1.24                          

1 small onion                                   $0.18

2 tablespoon butter                           $0.16              

¼ cup sour cream                            $0.34                         

6 ounces broccoli & cauliflower          $1.00

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese       $0.81  

¼ cup Swiss cheese                         $0.64

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $5.38
Cost per person = $2.69

Quote of the Day

People see the world not as it is, but as they are.


Al Lee


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4 comments to Reality Check

  • We are SO alike. I couldn’t spend one minute watching people “live” their lives on TV. First it’s all organized by the producer and secondly as you said, it’s boring. I would much rather spend the time with a great book, play a board game with friends or even clean a closet than watch a reality show. It would feel like such a waste of time and I’ve never felt I had any to waste. 🙂

    I love these potatoes. That is a perfect meal for me. Okay, I’ll admit it, I would add sour cream because I’m a piglet.

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