I’ve noticed something about my reality show viewing habits: I’m usually not able to devote enough energy to stick through an entire season of a competition show like Celebrity Apprentice, but I’ll gladly watch The Millionaire Matchmaker and most of the Real Housewives installments. Maybe it’s because I find it too straightforward to watch two teams compete for a prize. Instead, I must prefer seeing shrews and man-children create ridiculous, arbitrary divisions that ensure they will continue to fight about non-issues until the reunion show.
- The City: My sister joined me in New York for college when Whitney Port‘s Hills spinoff was in its death heaves. Since she was starting at Columbia and I’d been at NYU for two years, I gravely informed her that we were meant to follow the social distinctions dictated by Whitney’s frenemy Olivia Palermo: Megan had become an “uptown social,” whereas I was forever to be branded a “downtown hipster.” All because of where our dorms were located!
- Survivor: Nicaragua: It was the producers’ decision to divide the tribes by age, with one consisting of contestants 30 and under, and the other being 40-plus. But — if I have it right that it was the same season — it was the players who decided to go all clique-y, with several of the women and one gay guy sitting around and weaving friendship bracelets all the time. According to this cringe-inducing WikiHow article, friendship bracelets are how you control your high-school clique, so good job, guys.
- Project Runway: In season 2, Santino allied himself with the other queer, male contestants from Los Angeles. They would sit together like a lunchroom clique sewing their creations and ignore anyone who didn’t hail from the City of Angels. I know it’s a great town, but really?
- Real Housewives of New York: This season’s conflict is truly the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen on reality TV: It’s the battle of the blondes (Ramona, Sonja, Alex) versus the brunettes (LuAnn, Cindy, Kelly, and Jill even though she’s a redhead). The women are well aware of this distinction and sometimes make jokes about how they’ve fallen into rank — but more often they’re deadly serious about how they can’t associate with the Housewives of the opposite hair color. This is pretty ironic considering that the first season was everyone against Alex because she and Simon lived in Brooklyn and were considered lower on the social ladder. Suddenly Ramona has her back? That’s hard to fathom, but it’s clear that Alex wants to stay in the queen bee’s good graces, as she jumped on LuAnn in Morocco for making one snide comment about bad houseguest Ramona.