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The Expert: Curse of the Reality Show Romance

The Expert Curse of the Reality Show Romance
The Expert Curse of the Reality Show Romance
The Expert Curse of the Reality Show Romance

by David Foxley

Published: November 30, 2007 Tags:The City, Hulk Hogan, Linda Bollea, Patrick Wanis

We were starting to get the feeling that something was missing from The Daily Transom. And then it hit us, hard—like Britney Spears’ umbrella on K-Fed’s car. It’s been over two weeks since we last checked in with our celebrity life coach, Patrick Wanis, PhD. This time, we talked about what he called “the curse of the reality show.”

Mr. Wanis said it’s as simple as looking at all the celebrity couples whose relationships have hit the skids during or shortly after wrapping their series: Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey (Newlyweds); Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro (‘Til Death Do Us Part); Britney Spears and Kevin Federline (Chaotic); Travis Barker and Shanna Moakler (Meet the Barkers); Danny Bonaduce and Gretchen Bonaduce (Breaking Bonaduce); and Kathy Griffin and Matt Moline (My Life on the D-List). “And let’s not forget—although we might want to—Liza Minnelli and David Gest,” said Mr. Wanis. The cringe-worthy pair couldn’t even finish taping the first season of their VH1 show before divorcing.  Totally a pattern, right? There’s more… 

For the sake of keeping things newsy, though, we decided to stick with the latest—and perhaps most tragic—victims of this spooky curse: Hulk Hogan and Linda Bollea, whose VH1 reality series was called Hogan Knows Best. (For those who don’t know, Ms. Bollea filed for divorce from the former pro wrestler earlier this week. Read the details by clicking here.)  “They did have a lot of differences,” Mr. Wanis said. “If you watch the show, they’re arguing about how [daughter] Brooke should dress; they’re arguing about what [son] Nick should do with his life—typical things that any parents would argue about.”

What’s not typical at all, according to Mr. Wanis, is the whole premise of the show. Starting with and stemming from, of course, its title: Hogan Knows Best. “Maybe Father Knows Best was successful in the nineteen-fifties. But today, you can’t have a guy who says, ‘I’m the one who knows best.’ That was the whole pitch of the show! ‘Yeah, but today, women don’t want that!’ Women do not want to be controlled by men”—except, he allowed, for women in certain kinds of households—“Today’s twenty-first century woman wants independence; she wants her own voice; she wants her own identity; she wants to be heard; she still wants to be a mother and a housewife, but she still wants her own life and identity separate from the family.”

There have also been rumors circulating that the divorce is a ruse (which were largely started by the lawyer who represents 22-year-old John J. Graziano, the boy put into a comatose state when the Bolleas’ son, Nick, crashed the car he was riding in.) Mr. Wanis doesn’t buy it. “I personally don’t think Hogan would ever [fake a divorce.] I don’t think that’s his nature; I think he’s got a great heart; I think he’s sincere in what he does. His intentions are always sincere. Plus, if he was ever to do anything like that, it would destroy his entire reputation around the world,” he told us.  “I just think Linda’s going through a midlife crisis.” In a document Mr. Wanis released exclusively to The Daily Transom, he details the reasons why, in his view, reality TV is relationship poison:  Being in front of TV cameras for great lengths of time triggers two automatic behavioral responses:

  1. The subconscious desire to please others and gain their approval will lead us to play the role and say the type of things that we believe others expect of us
  2.  “Emotional nakedness” whereby our critical defenses are lowered and we blurt out and act the truth -what we truly think and feel from our subconscious mind – the things we would usually hide, contain or try to control

Further, there is the additional emotional strain of being followed around continuously by TV cameras which robs the reality star of much of his/her freedom and private thoughts. Privacy and personal time for reflection are important components of mental and emotional health. Also, being on camera many hours a day is equivalent to working long hours at a job, leading to physical and mental strain. And the camera also becomes like a person invading your personal space and judging your every thought, action and response with little or no time for a true rest and break. This can lead to frustration, irritability, arguments, defensiveness and anger. Additionally, the exposure, publicity and fame can result in delusion, a loss of sense of one’s real self and a transformation of one’s values. In other words, the TV cameras intensify and exaggerate the best and worst of each reality star. In the case of a married couple, the TV cameras and reality show will also rob the couple of the critical personal, private time for intimacy -emotional intimacy.

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