What Is Our Obsession With Trashy TV?


Media consumption and cancel culture share one trait, viewer vs. spectacle.  

When you engage in viewership, no matter what kind of media you consume, you build a wall between yourself and the entertainment. Whether this decision is conscious or an unknowing invention of your subconscious, everyone who consumes media falls guilty of observing a spectacle.

Some consumers claim to stick to a diet of higher-quality media, but what about those streamers who splurge with reality TV? What makes someone subject themselves to raunchy, poorly-written, trashy TV?

Emily Nussbaum, a New Yorker reporter who published a piece entitled “Hate-Watching Smash,” allegedly became the first person to use the phrase hate-watching, watching something to micro-analyze, dissect, and fuel hatred.

Hate-watching vs. Guilty Pleasures

Entertainment spectators have dissected performers and media for centuries. Jonathan Richardson is the first reported art critic spanning back to 1719. Following his legacy, criticism developed into a popular and (at times) esteemed career path.

Guilty pleasures refer to acknowledging the scale of terrible media but reveling anyway. Turning on a show so bad it’s good you lose yourself in the antics of the appalling writing and grating characters.

Today, criticism dominates daily life. Twitter users scroll feeds for the latest “dirt” on celebrity life. People find plot holes in streaming media, report those findings to social media, and friends share chats about the latest awful show or song, also confiding how addictive the program is.

So what makes trashy TV all the more alluring?

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