Look, we all have a little bit of a schadenfreude hard-on for watching people go through worse experiences than us. It’s a way we can evaluate our own lives after a particularly shitty day and go “Well, at least I’m not huffing Dust-Off.” That’s why shows like Intervention and Hoarders strike a chord with us: particularly the latter, since we don’t even feel that twinge of guilt of watching someone drinking themselves to death, just a sort of morose fascination with how a person could store up 20 years of kitty poop in their garage.
But The Frisky got a hold of press release today about a new show Abusers that’s about…you guessed it, domestic violence. And we’re starting to feel icky all over again. Although it doesn’t seem to have been picked up by a network yet, we understand that the people behind the show are doing it for what they believe are the right reasons: “…the creative team includes Ashley and Josh from “The Real World: D.C.”, who both experienced domestic violence in their homes. Abusers and victims who participate on Abusers will be given free online degree programs through the University of Phoenix.”
Leaving aside what you can get a degree for free after being on a show about domestic violence, these shows always claim to help by saying “We’re letting people know they’re not alone.” Which may be true, but is not the reason 99 percent of Americans tune in to the program: they are there to watch the show like it was Cops. And to advertisers, those people aren’t seperated from the people who watch the show for the “right” reasons, meaning the money comes in regardless of whether these shows are helpful or exploitative (or both).