The Case for a Swarthmore College Reality Television Show

I love reality television. Ever since I saw my first episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians one long summer day at the age of thirteen, I’ve been hooked. I can list every Dance Mom and what season they were on, draw you a Kardashian family tree (Brody and Brandon Jenner included), and recite at will the famous Amsterdam fight from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (I’ve been told my Lisa Rinna impression is especially good). With this level of expertise, I can confidently say I believe our beloved academic institution has what it takes to be the next hit reality show.

For one, many greats of the reality television genre take place in treacherous environments — think America’s Next Top Model contestants posing beside a live volcano, or Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie braving the ravages of Middle America on The Simple Life. The American public will be glued to their seats as brave Swatties navigate bulldozers, construction workers, and more wire fencing than most maximum security prisons — all whilst jockeying behind two people walking just far enough apart that there’s no way to overtake them.

Another feature often observed on a reality show is fine dining experiences, and more specifically the fights that inevitably erupt during them. Who can forget Theresa Giudice flipping a table on Real Housewives of New Jersey, Khloe Kardashian throwing wine at Scott Disick on Keeping Up, or Aviva Drescher flinging her prosthetic leg in the midst of a particularly iconic Real Housewives of New York dinner? Enter Swarthmore’s bastion of haute cuisine, the DCC, with acoustics sure to amplify any raised voices and overhead lighting so harsh it will make any mental breakdown look even worse. Imagine the gripping reality drama that could go down in this space: hapless students forgetting to “Swat swivel,” only to find that the very person they were just complaining about was sitting in earshot the whole time; plastic cups of not-quite-cold water being hurled; and the most degrading, humiliating, gut-wrenching experience of all — dropping one’s cutlery.

Fashion has, of course, played into many a great reality plot line, from ‘supermodel’ Kendall Jenner’s rise on Keeping Up to Paris Hilton’s Y2K style on The Sweet Life to the hot-glue-gun-couture creations of any RuPaul’s Drag Race design challenge. Swarthmore’s campus is teeming with such a vast variety of sartorial choices that there’s something for everyone. For the less fashionably inclined viewer, there are groutfits and pajamas galore, while those at the forefront of style can wonder if the prevalence of skinny jeans means Swatties are really ahead of the trend cycle or really behind it. And never fear — just when you’ve forgotten what school this show is filmed at — enter a student who three years in is still wearing the t-shirt handed out during orientation week.

And of course, it wouldn’t be reality TV without some good old-fashioned romance. As the Golden Bachelor makes us all wonder why anyone thought watching geriatrics make out was appealing to the public, we can instead reflect on what makes our campus such a special place to televise a budding romance. For one, the size of our student body means that the moment you step onto campus you surrender all privacy, so who cares if you’re mic’d up and being filmed on your first interaction with your crush. Besides, the campus has endless romantic spots — just ask the couples making out in the corner of the DCC, a booth in Cornell, or the middle of Magill Walk.

So there you have it, dear reader, my robust proposal for the only way I could think of to improve our otherwise perfect haven of liberal arts learning. A show such as this would not only revolutionize the world of reality television but could make mega-stars of students and faculty alike. And if you are still, by some impossible chance, not convinced, just picture President Smith and Dean Sakomura hurling expletives at each other on a couch while Andy Cohen tries to calm them both down.

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