Do you know how many Reality Shows are currently airing on TV?
I tried for several days to find an accurate list of currently airing shows while doing a bit of planning for this meeting and the closest I could come was a list of shows on one specific network/channel, or a list of nominated shows for this year’s Reality Wanted Reality Show Awards. (Yes, that’s a real award show!)
Reality TV is not only a staple on our TV Screens, it’s also a staple in the lives of our teens!
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, that depends on your perspective. Although some might consider this a horrible situation and terrible examples for our teens, I find that if they are approached with the attitude of ‘let’s find the positive here’ and educated on what Reality TV ACTUALLY is, then we can actually help them to watch these shows with their faith and their hearts as well as their eyes!!! Let’s face it, they’re going to watch them anyway!
I’ve actually done this meeting with my High School and Middle School groups a few times over the past ten years or so. It’s a great way to tackle the topic using the shows your teens actually watch, and their versions of the shows (which they will act out during the meeting) will have everyone doubled over in laughter! I’ve had a wonderful discussion and outcome every time I have done this meeting, and I find it an important topic to cover since our teens AND their parents both watch a wide variety of shows.
I was recently inspired to ‘dust off’ this meeting idea again as I was listening to the new Anthem Lights CD. The last song on the album is called “Dear Hollywood” and it is a perfect match and closing song for this meeting.
So…What’s the Meeting Idea? How does it work?
Here’s what you’ll need….
- A Cup with Reality Show Popsicle Sticks Inside (Pre-Write the name of each reality show you wish to use on each stick with a marker/sharpee. Be sure to have a WIDE VARIETY of types of shows).
- A little knowledge/research done by you and your other leaders or volunteers ahead of time. (ie. If you’ve never watched an episode of a very popular show you know your teens watch, be sure to watch at least one episode).
- Prizes for the group that wins the Reality Show Showdown Activity.
- OPTIONAL- PROPS for the teens to use as they act out a scene from the show they selected.
- OPTIONAL- A projector or computer or ipad to play the links to Anthem Lights “Behind the Song” Explanation Video and Official Music Video.
- A copy of “Dear Hollywood” by Anthem Lights to play at the end of the meeting.
Here is the list of Shows I used…
Remember to adjust your list to be ‘updated and current’ as well as a wide variety of what your teens watch. (Variety meaning competition, documentary style, inspirational, educational, cooking, entertainment, ridiculous, etc.) I gave an example of how I categorized mine in the first few listed below. I asked a few teens ahead of time what some of their favorite shows were and made sure to include them in my list.
- America’s Got Talent (competition)
- Duck Dynasty (documentary)
- Teen Mom (documentary)
- Biggest Loser (inspirational)
- Jersey Shore (ridiculous)
- Real Housewives of _____ (any city you want)
- Bachelor or Bachelorette
- American Idol
- Keeping Up With The Kardashians
- Dance Moms
- Pawn Stars
- Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
- How It’s Made
- America’s Next Top Model
- Breaking Amish
- 19 Kids and Counting
- The Little Couple
- Judge Judy
- Hell’s Kitchen
- Long Island Medium
- So You Think You Can Dance
- American Ninja Warrior
- Gator Boys
- Say Yes To The Dress
- Deadliest Catch
- Toddlers & Tiaras
- Scared Straight
Here is my Cup ‘O Shows!!!
How To Run The Meeting…
Once all the teens arrive, let them know that they are about to compete in the REALITY SHOW SHOWDOWN!!! Start off by asking questions such as:
- How many of you have a reality show that you absolutely cannot miss? Addicted to watching, etc.
- How many of you have a show that you flat out refuse to watch because you think it is ridiculous or a waste of time?
- How many of you watch a show that you can’t wait to discuss with your friends who also watch it?
- How many of you watch a show with your family together?
- What are some of your favorite shows?
Once you have these questions answered, have the teens break up into groups of 4 or 5 or 6. Let each group select a group name. Do a little ‘quick math’ and figure out how many shows/popsicle sticks each group will select based on- 1) The number of groups you have 2) The amount of popsicle stick show titles you have 3) Amount of time for the activity. That way you can decide how many shows/popsicle sticks each group will have time to do.
Explain that each group will randomly select their shows (make sure show titles are hidden at the bottom of the cup so that the teens select their shows RANDOMLY and cannot see what they are picking). Tell them that once they have selected their shows, they will have a few minutes to come up with a skit acting out a scene of each show they picked. They should include the main characters. Like charades, the rest of the teens in the room will have to guess which reality show that group is acting out once the scene is complete. Remind them that this is a REALITY SHOW SHOWDOWN, so prizes will be awarded to the BEST / MOST ACCURATELY represented scene. Have each group select their popsicle sticks (one group at a time). I had each group do two shows for middle school, four shows for high school. Make sure at least one teen in each group knows what the show is well enough to explain to the others and act it out. I gave my teens 5-10 minutes.
Once everyone is ready, have each group ACT OUT their show one at a time. Make sure they are able to finish their ‘scene’ before the other teens in the room start shouting out what show they think it is. (You should have seen my teens acting out Gator Boys….one on the floor acting as a gator, and the others ‘gently’ wrestling him without harming him so he could get sent to a gator rescue sancuary. Another favorite was Pawn Stars where my teens were trying to get top dollar for their coconut. The ‘seller’ kept mentioning to the ‘buyers’ that the coconut was very very old, from 1972!!! (Those of us adults in the room did not find the date as amusing as the teens did…OUCH!) Side note…we live in Ft. Lauderdale where we have an abundance of coconuts which made the ‘very rare and old coconut speech’ pretty hilarious!)
Once everyone has recovered from the fun and laughter, continue on to your discussion. Below are some of my discussion starters and talking points:
- Whether we want to admit it or not, we have all indulged at some point in reality shows. Many are looked down upon. Most include a lot of drama. SO…WHY DO WE WATCH THEM?
- Do we judge people we don’t know because of what we watch?
- Do we judge people we do know because of what we watch?
- Do we judge our friends/relatives based on what reality shows they choose to watch? (You watch that crazy show? That show is so fake! Why do you find that interesting? That show is fixed, he/she will win. Etc.)
- Do you watch/discuss certain shows together with your family/friends? (I hope ‘so and so’ wins that show. I can’t believe that happened. Etc.)
- What are some positive things of the shows we acted out tonight? (The below examples are actual comments from my teens)
- Positive Example…. Duck Dynasty- It’s funny. They pray at the end of every show. They are a nice family, etc.
- Positive Example….American Idol- It takes a lot of courage to audition, even if the judges say you are terrible.
- Positive Example…..Biggest Loser- It’s inspiring to see people change their lives and get healthier.
- What are some negative things of the shows we acted out tonight?
- Negative Example….Keeping Up With The Kardashians- They make themselves look bad because they are spoiled and rich and only care about how they look.
- Negative Example….Dance Moms- The Director and the moms should get along because their daughters are talented and they shouldn’t be disrespectful to each other because it’s a bad example to their daughters. The daughters all get along and cheer each other on so the moms and the Director should get along also.
- Negative Example…Jersey Shore- They only care about partying and they make teens and kids think it’s ok to act that way.
Once you have discussed this a bit, give the teens a REALITY CHECK on what Reality TV ACTUALLY is! You will be surprised at how many teens DON’T realize, or never thought about the fact that REALITY STARS GET PAID!!!
In other words, the more fights you have on your show = the more viewers the show has = the more you get paid!
Does this make you think that MAYBE the people on these shows are acting a bit differently when the cameras are ON then when the cameras are OFF? (as adults, we know this is true, but the teens are a bit more trusting sometimes that a reality show is actually 100% real)
The more ridiculous your interactions with other characters are on the show, the more viewers you have, the more you get paid!!! Many shows have producers that instigate and actually encourage the characters to fight with each other!!! Many producers PUT the characters on the show into situations they might never be in otherwise.
And, on the positive side, if you watch Duck Dynasty, you might be familiar with the issue that arose for that show a year or so ago. Many were calling for the show to either remove the family prayer ending of each episode or pull the show off the air. What did the cast of DD respond? By refusing to remove the prayer segments. They said they would rather have the show taken off the air then remove the family prayer segments at the end!!! Can I get a “Quack, Quack” for those guys?! How awesome is that!?!?!
I put it all together for my teens using ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ as an example.
EXAMPLE- Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
I had actually read an article in a magazine last year that explained that the producers heard about something called “The Redneck Games” and encouraged the family to go and participate to tape for an episode. The family had actually never heard of “The Redneck Games”, but they listened to the producers and went and participated as the producers requested. Many people all over the US find plenty of ways to bash this family and talk about how ‘redneck’ they are, talking about how and what they eat, that they are a bit overweight, that they live next to the train tracks in a tiny little house, etc.
However, we can choose to find the positive in this show. If you have ever seen an episode, there is no doubt that this family LOVES one another and they defend and stick up for each other! The mother has taught her daughters that God makes people in ALL shapes and sizes and no matter what size their jeans are, she tells her daughters that they are the most beautiful girls in the world!! Those girls are confident in themselves and they know they are loved because their mom tells them all the time! AND>….A MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT POINTED THIS OUT DURING OUR DISCUSSION.…She said that she was glad to hear that they got paid to be on the show because maybe then the daughters would have money to attend college if they want to and maybe they could eventually move to a bigger house where they all could have their own bedrooms!!! (You know the phrase ‘out of the mouth of babes’? We can call this one, “Out of the mouth of a sixth grader!”
Now that the discussion has covered some positive, some negative, and some REAL REALITY behind the scenes biz, take the opportunity to discuss what GOOD stuff there is out there. Even if it isn’t reality, there IS good stuff on out there, you just have to look for it. We discussed recent movies like “When the Game Stands Tall”, “Soul Surfer”, “The Blind Side”, etc. We discussed shows like “Friday Night Lights”. We discussed music from bands who have positive lyrics and messages. There is good stuff out there, but it is FEW AND FAR BETWEEN the other stuff. I took this point to play the following clip of Anthem Lights explaining the reason behind their song “Dear Hollywood”. Here is the link:
Wrapping it Up…
We went around the room and I had the teens try to point out something positive in just about every show we acted out. We discussed FINDING positive shows and finding positive things in any show we watch. We discussed being the one to ‘chime in’ when others are talking about the negative stuff we see, and about how we can make them realize that Reality Shows may not always be REALLY REAL and that we can always look for the GOOD if we look with our HEARTS AND OUR FAITH instead of just with our eyes!!!
I finished the meeting by playing the Music Video linked below and that led us into Prayer Intentions.
“Dear Hollywood” by Anthem Lights
Should you choose to use this meeting idea with your teens, I pray that it has a positive impact on them as it did on both my Middle School and High School Teens.