What Reality Shows Can Teach Political Talk Shows

Let’s talk about the election.

No, I don’t want to talk about policy points, who should win, how we beat so and so, or the Super Tuesday results. I also don’t want to talk about the candidates. I want to talk about political talk shows and commentators. No matter the channel, it’s sort of amazing what happens. One pundit makes a point. Another pundit argues that point. Sometimes they argue the same point as they yell at each other. As I watched the Super Tuesday results with my Dad this past week, I couldn’t help but reflect at the similarities between these shows and my favorite reality reunion specials: Real Housewives, Bachelor/Bachelorette Tell All, Vanderpump Rules, etc. Yet, as familiar as MSNBC’s tones of argument felt to the Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion, I felt so much less included. These commentators weren’t talking to me, they were talking at me.

I consider myself a relatively informed millennial. I read the news, I vote, I can hold a conversation about what’s going on in the world. Yet, when I watch these political pundits take aim at one another, I can’t help but feel like none of it even matters. More importantly, I feel like I don’t matter as a viewer. It’s as if each commentator could debate about anything, as long as he/she/they come out on top. At least when I watch the Real Housewives battle each other on Bravo, I feel included. Why? First, because they use language and sentiments that resonate with me; and second, because they don’t try to use their voices to outsmart me. They’re “real”(forgive the pun), regardless of how they behave when not being filmed. 

Viewers need to be included in political commentary, and analysts must use their breath, voices, and language to be present with viewers. As I watched the most recent Love Is Blind Reunion, at least I know why Amber calls out Jessica: Amber loves Barnett, and Jessica threatened that love. While she may not have been the most articulate, we certainly heard her.  All of us can get behind fighting for true love; and fighting to be with your person. When I watched MSNBC on Tuesday evening, I had no idea what topics mattered, and why anyone even cared. They failed to use inclusive language; even as the issues being debated will impact our love lives, work lives, and the lives of our families. 

Commentators cannot let their intellect in the way of using speech to connect with viewers. Let us know why these issues matter, and use words that allow us to take part in the experience. You’re not “dumbing it down;” you’re allowing us to enter the picture. Engage us, not your ego.