'Your WHAT Clocks?': An Ode to Reality Show Fights About Nothing
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
During last night's stressful team challenge on Project Runway, Team Nuts & Bolts turned into Team Simply Nuts when prissy, pristine Josh (seriously, never a hair on head nor eyebrow is ever out of place!) got on grumbling ol' Bert's case over a simple misunderstanding regarding a printer, some clocks and an errant f-word. And, like an avalanche that starts with a single snowflake, it was as destructive as it was magnificent. If you're watching from afar, that is.

Impatient to get his fabric design considered by the team, Bert's first and true enemy was the printer, which refused to print his pattern of pocket watches. "So much for my friggin clocks," he mumbled. And that, simply that, is what sent Joshua so far off the handle that (in the words of Joey Tribbiani) the handle was a dot to him! WATCH: 

"Because I WILL ... not stand for it!" And the Oscar goes to...

This little incident -- not so little in the long-run, because it set Team Nuts & Bolts so off-kilter that they never recovered and sent a truly heinous and haphazard "collection" (if you can call it that) down the runway -- and the sheer delight I got from watching it play out, got me thinking: One of my absolute favorite things about reality shows is their ability to show us conflicts that arise out of nothing, or close to nothing. Sure, the big blow-outs about real personality clashes, betrayals and insults are fun to watch, too. But they're never as funny, and I'll always prefer my reality TV to be dramatically absurd over absurdly dramatic.

It's a trivial beginning that makes a reality TV fight truly spectacular, because (this is my theory, anyway) it's so relatable to us in the real world. Who hasn't ended up in a heated argument with a friend, lover or pet that got blown out of proportion? I have an ex-childhood friend I still don't talk to because of some un-take-back-able things she said about Devon Sawa. That's my life, and like every great reality show contestant, I regret nothing.

We just don't get that many "something out of nothing" fights on scripted shows, which have the burden of needing to build up those things with narrative structure and dramatic weight and consequence called "plots." Reality shows don't carry that burden. On the competitive ones, the drama is built into the structure of the show, and on social ones (the Real Housewives, Dance Moms, etc.), most of the entertainment value lies in how trivial everything -- the people, their problems -- is. The point is that there is no point, but they believe with all their beings and souls that there's a point, and make decisions -- often bad ones, starting with being on the reality show -- based on that belief. (And that, my children, is essentially what living is.) As long as it's always something new -- like Vinny and Deena fighting over who called dibs on the slutty blonde who visited both of their beds, not like Ronnie and Sammi repeatedly arguing over who is more miserable in their nightmare relationship -- I'll always be entertained.

And unlike scripted characters, who have to possess things like "motivation" and "cognitive reasoning skills," reality show contestants can be (or just are) real people. Real, irrational, crazy, emotional, often very stupid, glorious in all their faults, people. And we love them for that. Well, I love them for that. Because I can relate to that! That's why a hair-pulling brawl over frozen chicken is so amazing when it happens on America's Next Top Model, but if it happened on Gossip Girl, it would just be stupid. (But still not as stupid as most of what actually happens on that show.) Altercations that idiotic and banal have no business happening in made-up worlds. That's where time travel and unicorns and vampires get to live!

And so I tip my hat to you, the reality show fight about nothing. Because to me, in a way, you are everything.

What is YOUR favorite reality show fight about nothing?

(Image courtesy of Lifetime)