Simi Olurin ’19
Aviva Drescher slammed her prosthetic leg on the table when she declared “the only thing artificial or fake about me…. Is THIS!” And all of the housewives and nameless onlookers let out an audible gasp as Aviva cemented herself in Housewives history. Although she didn’t remain on the real housewives for long, her infamous leg throw is what called my attention to the Real Housewives of New York City. And after that, Beverly Hills, and after that, New Jersey. But once I realized that the universal wine-throwing trope was unoriginal and relatively stale, I started watching MORE reality TV in hopes of finding a genuinely interesting franchise.
Now, in this day and age, it’s pretty much obvious to everyone that reality TV is heavily scripted and overproduced. The way that there was ALWAYS some sort of drama at Karma on “The Jersey Shore” and how the cameras always just HAPPENED to be around when Kim receives “life changing” news on a speaker phone call is enough to basically clue you back into the fact that this is, in fact, a TV show. And a reality show that actually has to do with, well, reality, would be grotesquely dull.
However, now that I’m in my junior year of high school, I have made a startling realization. Although it is incredibly easy for us to spot the heavily-scripted moments in reality TV that make it seem as though it’s not reality at all, our own lives are basically just as scripted.
You’re essentially handed your script for school in the summer right before school actually starts, and this will dictate the basic every day of the next 9 months of your life. You wake up; you get ready for school; you drive to school on the same roads you’ve traveled for years; you arrive at school and wait in the lounges or the library with the same people you wait with everyday; go to your classes (which themselves are predetermined and scripted by the teachers, so it’s essentially completely out of your power); you go to sports, then go home and do your homework for a matter of hours before you call “cut” and just go to sleep.
But you’re just going to complete another take tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…
However, the real scripting doesn’t really have to do with the everyday occurrences. I mean, within each day, there is always room for you to maybe add a bit of improv just to break the monotony. Like, maybe one day after school you’ll take a nap that you desperately needed, or maybe you’ll try something different at lunch.
The scripting comes with how your overall life is, and mostly likely has been and will be. I’ve been at Tower Hill since I was 4-years-old, and since then, my life has essentially been mapped out. I will go to a private school for 14 years; I will participate in activities that will somehow broaden my horizons; I will graduate from high school (the same school that I’ve been at forever); and I will go to college. And for many of us, this is a script that we don’t really have much influence over.
Like the Real Housewives, each event is planned FAR in advance. Before actual reality has a chance to catch up with it in any way to make it seem authentic. The same way that Erika knows that she’s going to be pushed into a koi pond at the gala is analogous to how we know that we’re going to have to take a foreign language. At some points, it seems relatively bleak.
And this isn’t me trying to say that we have no autonomy in our lives, because we definitely do. But considering the big picture, many of our lives have been lived a billion different times by a billion different people. The overall script just keeps circulating with a few alterations here and there to give us the illusion that maybe, just maybe, things will be different this time.
This “script theory” isn’t new, and some may just refer to it as a life plan, which is fine. But it seems a bit disheartening to think that the only time we can ever really appear to be unscripted, as high schoolers, is when it’s a weekend or when something beyond your control happens, like a snow day.
The script lacks originality, and as kids, it doesn’t even seem as though we’re the directors in our own lives, but rather the melancholy actors trapped in an ironclad contract until we age out of our roles. And one day, we’ll look back at our time in high school and realize that we hit every…single…plot point that there was.
I wish I could end this on an upbeat note that tells you how to break the cycle and reclaim your life and finally start writing your future for yourself, but I can’t. Although technically, we are the subjects, we’re all just sitting side-by-side in the same theater watching the events play out in predictable fashion.
In the end, the only thing that REALLY separates our reality from those on Bravo and E! is that there are no cameras around, and we’re not getting paid.