Popular TV shows have furthered a watch party culture in the ASU community

Concepts like 'The Bachelor' night are reminiscent of telling stories around a campfire

Whether they are watching contestants sashay away after a nail-biting lip-sync battle or receive a luke-warm “I like that” response after confessing their love in detail to a man known as "the kissing bandit," students are gathering with friends to partake in the American ritual of reality television. 

According to the website TVline, ABC’s "The Bachelor" premiered Season 22 on Monday night with 5.5 million total viewers, though this is a decrease from previous years. "RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars" premiered on VH1 for the first time after two seasons on Logo TV  and racked up 895,000 total viewers, according to Deadline, making it the most-watched "All Stars" episode to date. These statistics do not include the amount of people who view these shows on sources like Hulu. 

Freshman political science major Megan Eaton has been hosting and attending viewing parties of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" since high school. 

Eaton said that her and her sorority sisters love the show so much because of all of the drama.

“Some of the dates are so over the top that they’re laughable,” Eaton said. “There are parts that seem unrealistic which makes them way funnier. It’s also fun to root for a specific person on the show, and when you watch the show consistently every week you become invested in their relationship. It’s interesting to see an entire relationship, and multiple relationships, play out on screen and if they’ll last after the cameras leave.”

Freshman political science major Elika Ruintan said there are also shows aside from "The Bachelor" that can be more relatable and inclusive. 

"I think that 'The Bachelor' and 'Bachelorette' have been staples in our reality and game show watching for years," Ruintan said. "But now there are a lot of shows that have more recently sparked a large following that reflect more on this generation's political movements, for example shows like 'Ru Paul’s Drag Race' or 'Queer Eye.' They keep things fun and entertaining, while adding a layer of depth by delving into LGBT+ rights, sexism and race relations."

ASU journalism faculty associate Amber Hutchins said television group gatherings are comparable to people telling stories around a campfire. 

"It’s just a modern-day version of that ... I think it just demonstrates that people still actually want that human, physical connection."

Hutchins said when she went to ASU in the '90s, her fellow classmates would gather in common areas or dorm rooms to watch the television series "Friends" once a week.

"I think that some of these television shows are very relatable, they provide conversations and talking points, I think that it’s just fun to create a community and invest in these shows," Hutchins said. 

Ruintan said that she has recognized the impact of the shows she and her peers watch through speech patterns and behaviors. 

"Aside from the social media presence these shows cause, these shows have affected people’s style and speech," Ruintan said. "You often hear people referencing 'America's Next Top Model' (and its) use of photos to decide who goes home in everyday speech, as well as people adopting phrases like 'yas queen,' 'okkkr,' 'hunty' and more from 'Ru Paul’s Drag Race.'"

Hutchins echoed this thought. She said that the shows students are viewing are more than simple entertainment.

"I think that when a show becomes popular, people begin to adopt the slang that is created in the show," Hutchins said. "I think that that helps provide sort of a culture touchstone and it kind of represents the specific era we are living in. I think that that becomes a way for people to relate to each other — through the vernacular of these shows."

Reach the reporter at jlmyer10@asu.edu or follow @jessiemy94 on Twitter. 

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