March 26, 2023

SENZON | My Guilty Pleasure

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While last week I wrote about relatively complicated and important topics on international human rights, this week I thought I’d switch it up. With work picking up this semester, it can become easy to experience burnout — or try to outrun it, for lack of better words. 

Since coming back from February break, I noticed the abundance of work being assigned and close due dates that gave no room for preparation. While February break was short-lived, it was supposed to act as an opportunity to recharge, reset and then resume. I ended up falling into old cycles and completing work over break without giving myself that much-needed time to recharge that I’d craved so often. Enjoying one of my favorite pastimes wasn’t an option for me over break, but luckily once back on campus I was able to fit in some time to indulge in the most entertaining dating shows. 

Some of my favorite shows include Love Island, Too Hot to Handle, Love is Blind, Perfect Match — the list goes on. I can acknowledge that there is much controversy behind these shows and the unrealistic standards of beauty that they impose on viewers. This is an issue that relates to body image and the young minds that consume this media who are struggling with mental health issues, like disordered eating. The ugly truth about these shows is the oftentimes undiverse cast that represents one body type, or just one race rather than individuals of different backgrounds. The same can be said for shows that are very intentionally fulfilling a diversity quota where they include just one person of color. 

I could simply go on about this aspect of dating shows, but today I’ll discuss the pleasure and satisfaction they bring to a stressed college student craving downtime. My favorite thing about these shows is the fantastical aspect of it all, the understanding that these shows are unrealistic. Knowing that these shows aren’t realistic is something that brings comfort to me as I enjoy watching the drama unfold within these shows. 

Despite their total lack of realism, it would be physically impossible for me to say no to an invitation to one of these shows. To start, let’s discuss the houses these casts are brought to — simply put, they are outrageous: enormous, villa-style mansions typically located on tropical islands where these grown adults run wild and find love. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I never watch these shows to watch grown adults find love on national television. My attraction to these dating shows comes from the rush of adrenaline experienced watching drama go down. 

For instance, let me describe a hypothetical situation for you that might be portrayed on one of these shows. Marissa, John and Brad are all on Perfect Match — three individuals in their mid-late twenties who are in a love triangle. Marissa and John have been in an on-and-off relationship for several years before reuniting on the show. Marissa and Brad have history too; they met on “Love is Blind” and fell deeply in love. Marissa and John thought that they were meant for each other, that they would spend the rest of their lives together. Being in an on-and-off relationship comes with complications that held them back from taking the next steps in their relationship together. Marissa was ready to get married, having found a man she saw all the qualities of a future husband in, but he didn’t want to get married. John claims that Marissa is the love of his life, but he has reservations and isn’t ready for that type of commitment. After all, he’s in his mid-late twenties. This is the time of John’s life to have some fun, the ideal time to give into impulsivity and to let the party animal that lives within himself run wild. Who wants to settle down when you could have fun instead? 

Can you tell I’ve watched far too many of these shows? It’s important to understand that these shows exist for the sole purpose of entertainment and none of these standards should be internalized — just have fun and enjoy the drama. For me, watching these shows is the perfect way to remove myself from the daily responsibilities of a college student struggling to strike a healthy work-life balance. In reading this, hopefully I’ve inspired you to give dating shows a try. This small glimpse into the reality of these dating shows and what they entail is only a preview of the greater adventure that awaits — maybe you can join me in spirit when watching a dating show. 

Adam Senzon is a freshman in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]. My Two Sen-ts runs every other Thursday this semester.