Why I Watch Reality Television With My Kids

After “Putting the X in the X Factor,” I got some mail suggesting that I just turn the television off instead of watching these reality-television shows with my kids. But there I sat on Monday night, watching The Sing Off, and we witnessed a touching, redemptive moment.

My oldest two kids — who are all about-Africa ever since we traveled there to adopt a little girl — were excited to see a group of singers called Messiah’s Men from Liberia.  I guess you can tell by their name that they are a gospel group, specifically an “Afro-centric” gospel group.  Following a group that sang Katy Perry’s “Extraterrestrial,” they sang about faith –  a topic they knew a great deal about. These men met in Liberia and left Africa to make a better life for themselves in America. They’ve been together for eight years, made two albums, toured the United States, and received numerous awards in the gospel world.

Of course, they got voted off.

However, this is just one of many great moments on these shows that I’m not ready to give up. They are stories I want my children to see.

We’re moved by their tear-jerking stories and jaw-dropping talent. They are just normal people who are able to touch us with their melodies and inspire us with their stories. As Rebecca Cusey wrote, describing last season’s auditioners on American Idol, these are “people who make us realize that although Hollywood makes great stories, fiction can never match the beauty and heroism of reality.”

Click here for some great examples.

Putting the X in The X Factor: America’s Got Transvestites

What can families watch together anymore?

If you judge by the commercials, there are a number of good talent-based options. America’s Got Talent indicates that it’s a family-friendly show geared toward finding diamonds in the rough. The new X Factor is advertised as a place where the under-employed and under-appreciated can finally get a chance to shine. The Sing Off is just like the others, but without instruments.

Indeed, families who sit down with a bowl of popcorn around the television will get the feel-good stories Americans have always loved. On the season premiere of X Factor, a 28-year-old garbage man took the stage after the audience heard his terrible story of drug addiction. He’d only been sober 70 days when he confessed that he wanted to be the type of man of whom his son could be proud. When he launched into his own original song called “Young Homie,” it seemed as if it could be an immediate hit — touching, poignant, and inspirational. He and other contestants fulfilled all of the categories necessary to tug at the heartstrings: bad childhood, single parent, drug addiction, cruddy job, jaw-dropping talent.

But amidst all of these Susan Boyle–type stories are moments that make you wish your kids weren’t in the room.

Read it all here.


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