Reality television rewired my brain


At the beginning of the year I wanted to do some work rewriting and creating new neural pathways in my brain. To do this you simply change your habits and do things differently. This keeps the brain from becoming stagnant and sedentary. One of the things that is a constant and unpredictable resource is reality. You can predict how most plays or television shows will turn out. You can predict how anything staged or preformed will end, but you can never predict reality. It’s always going to throw you a curve ball. Whether it’s something you see walking down your street one day, or something you can watch on television, reality is most definitely stimulating.

What are neural pathways?

“A neural pathway connects regions within the brain to one another or conveys information from the peripheral nervous system to the brain. Two major classes of neural pathways relay sensation to the brain or carry signals for movement to the body from it. They both consist of long, insulated nerve fibers that communicate electrically or by a chemical neurotransmitter. Spinal reflex pathways are local pathways that provide quick responses to sudden stimuli without feedback from the brain.”


Neural pathways can be manipulated by us and outside influences. Thickened pathways are things that have become habits for us and those are the ones I sought to change and make more elastic and pliable…by changing my habits.

One of the things my husband and I enjoy watching are documentaries. It doesn’t matter what it’s about. There’s something about a documentary that just draws us in and glues us to the television set until it’s over. *putting on my best newscaster’s voice* “Ahem. Tonight watch the epic three hour journey of So and So as they make the unbelievable and arduous task  creating the ice pick. You will see from start to the bitter end how the ice pick went from a twinkle in So’s eye to the main character in the Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone thriller! Never before told details will be uncovered as we follow along together to discover…the ice pick!” There is nothing better in this world than a documentary. We love them! It’s the absolute best reality TV there is.

The other reality TV, which is where that particular phrase was coined, went from being very good to being very bad. I guess some shows still have what it takes to be unpredictable, but many of them are dwindling down to nothing much. I do have many favorites though. I like to watch the interactions between people to see how they solve issues and process bad behaviors. It’s interesting to be going through something in my own life and to suddenly see it happening on television between two reality stars. That’s when art imitates real life imitating art. And it’s fascinating!  

Most of you consider reality TV to just include those shows like Survivor or Big Brother, but reality TV to me is anything that happens on television between real people, not actors. When you think about it like that, there’s a whole lot of reality TV to choose from. But for the sake of what I’m telling you today, we are just going to talk about the reality TV shows that are clearly classified as reality. These are shows that have real human beings playing themselves in their everyday life. There’s nothing scripted or mythical about it. That’s shows like Vanderpump Rules (one of my favorites), some of the Real Housewives shows and something I had no idea I’d like, but fell in love with, America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). TheReal Housewives shows and Vanderpump Rules are still in production, however ANTM had it’s last season a couple of years ago. You can catch all of the past seasons from start to end on Hulu.

I have written about Vanderpump Rules before. The link to the whole post is right here: Vanderpump Rules Hits a Nerve

“There are a few reality shows on television these days that capture my attention. One of the most intriguing is Vanderpump Rules. This show has captivated me, but not in the ways you’d imagine. I’m not watching it for the fashion or the hot bods. I love this show because it touches on some taboo subjects. It’s like watching a gnarly human experiment happen over the course of a few weeks.

Last season one of the show’s villains went on an apology tour. These apology tours seem to be the new norm for folks that love to piss other people off on a regular basis. I am not particularly impressed with anyone on one of these self gratifying tours and think their apologies are basic bullshit. This theory of mine proved right on the money with this girl’s tour.

It hit a big nerve with me.” 

I highly recommend this show if you are in the process of healing from a particularly vicious narcissistic smear campaign, simply because the bully never wins on this show. They are always shown in the light they appear and no one in editing does anything to make them look innocent. They are rotten to the core and that’s exactly what you get to see, along with the folks that fight them like superheroes. Ariana Madix  is a badass troll slayer and she doesn’t back down from the bullies. It was just cathartic and validating to see how she always handled herself with class and decorum.

Another reality show I thought I’d hate, but actually loved, was America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). I know! I know what you’re thinking! But it’s not like that at all. I thought it was going to be these insipid young conceited girls wanting to be models and prancing around in designer labels, but nothing could be farther from that description. They do prance around in designer labels, but most of them are new designers and I’ve never heard of them, with some well known labels too. They do wear heels, though not every girl is good at walking in them and has to learn. They do prance around, but they are taught how to prance so that they get noticed on the runway and trust me, it’s not an easy class.

The girls that get picked to play each season are a plethora of personalities and not all of them are narcissists in front of the mirror. Tyra Banks actually thinks that a Top Model should also have a healthy personality. This is also why the show itself has a bit of drama on the outside since the first ANTM winner stops being a part of the opening montage after the second season. I recently watched each season again to catch things I might have missed the first time around and when I noticed her missing, I had to Google this to find out why. Evidently the first winner of the show had a disagreement/argument with the show and later she wanted to retract what she said, but the damage was done and she was essentially voted out. It was nice to see a bully put in their place for a change. If you’re going to berate someone before they have a chance to make it right, then you don’t deserve to remain a part of the franchise that made you famous. Now that’s the reality about reality television.

I guess what I like most about this particular franchise is that these girls work hard everyday they’re in the competition. They develop a thick skin, or they don’t, when it comes to listening to personal criticisms. It’s almost like watching them be tortured sometimes as the judges literally pick away at their bones on elimination day. Some of the worst judgments still might not end in elimination though, and I find that intriguing. You just never really know who’s getting let go.

In watching reality television show after show, I discover small lessons for myself to learn and find that sometimes it even makes me want to try harder to be a better person. It also made me take a good strong look at any unnecessary drama in my life and the folks that cause it. I realized that in my own reality there needed to be some eliminations and I got busy and let them go. Today my life is more drama-free than it’s ever been. Now that’s a new neural pathway I can get behind!

Reality television was just one of the ways I picked to create the new neural pathways of my brain. What are some of the ones you’ve tried that worked for you?


About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
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10 Responses to Reality television rewired my brain

  1. s1ngal says:

    I loved loved watching HOW TO LOOK GOOD NAKED… although I don’t follow/ watch it anymore, I have to admit that it’s one reality show that gave me so many AHA-moments and heaps of tears (happy ones)!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They say truth is stranger than fiction … guess it’s more stimulating, too. I agree about reality shows, half the stuff you couldn’t make up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Author Interview – Kristy Brown – Fantasy Series Keira’s Quest | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  4. Carol says:

    Starting a blog and learning about all the tings connected to it keeps my brain active and learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for writing this, I found that its hard to find positive opinions of reality TV. However, you’ve picked out things that we can learn from these shows that I had never thought of when writing about it! Great read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! It’s nice to know there’s a few of us out here!

      I know exactly what you mean too. I recently got slammed for my positive spin on reality television and my reaction was to laugh at the person. Their opinion to me is simply ignorance. If they ever took a few minutes to watch a few shows, they might learn something about themselves and seek to improve. I see lessons in every show I watch. It’s eye opening and I applaud these folks for opening their lives to us.

      Liked by 1 person

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