Hi, I’m TJ.
Well this is awkward. I guess I should just come right out and say it. It’s kind of embarrassing. But I am a reality TV junkie.
That’s not the only confession I have to make. I also love musical theater, I have watched “Napoleon Dynamite” an innumerable amount of times and I shame-watched every episode of “Glee” until I couldn’t stand it.
These things are what I like to call my guilty pleasures. Well I don’t like to call them that, but that’s what they are: The things that make me who I am, which I don’t want anyone to know about.
I’m not talking about the brownie-batter-at-midnight kind of guilty pleasure. What I’m talking about is the kind of entertainment we enjoy that makes us look any less cool than the Fonz.
I’ve been gathering strange hobbies and interests little by little. One day I was sitting at home with nothing to do, and the next I had watched one too many cycles of “America’s Next Top Model” on Bravo.
I have an obsessive personality, to say the least. For some, this leads to drug or alcohol problems. For me, thankfully, it has led to listening to “Thrift Shop” 100 times just to learn all of the words perfectly.
But why do I hide the fact that I’ve seen every episode of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” at least twice? Why is it that I always plan on telling anyone who asks that I’m listening to Mumford and Sons instead of whatever show tune I’m actually listening to?
It’s because I – and all of us – have a crazy, irrational fear that just because we like something slightly strange, we’ll be ridiculed and humiliated forever.
Sure, my close friends know all of this stuff about me, but they already like me, so I don’t need to impress them with my taste in music or my only slightly honest appreciation for shows like “Lost” or “Game of Thrones.”
For me, it started in middle school, also known as the worst years of everyone’s lives. I was getting hassled enough for liking to sing and being in plays, so why would I dare mention that I watched “Charmed” with my mom every Sunday night?
It only got more intense freshman year in my dorm room. With an open schedule and the kind of free time I would kill for at this point in my college career, I had all the time in the world to watch every video on YouTube of Natalie Weiss singing and every afternoon to marathon binge on shows like “Wife Swap.”
We call something a guilty pleasure so we don’t have to be ashamed if anyone finds out that we like it. And we say, “Oh that? No I don’t really like it. That’s just a guilty pleasure.”
It’s a mechanism that we use to convince ourselves that we belong in the niche of society in which we think we belong. Here’s the thing, though. Everybody has his or her weird interests.
To stop caring about what other people think of you is easier said than done. But you know what? Watching Lifetime does not make me less of a man, because at 4 a.m. there’s not a whole lot on TV, and I’d rather watch reruns of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” than the “700 Club” any day.
We should all stop pretending to feel guilty about doing the things that we enjoy and stop judging people’s worth depending on the number of times they have seen [insert indie band that no one besides you have heard of] in concert.
So, as my favorite YouTube personality Miranda Sings would say, “HATERS BACK OFF,” because I’m going to keep watching “Smash” no matter what you think.
TJ Creedon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @teejcreed.