Women Who Watch Reality TV & Men Who Watch Football Have A Lot More In Common Than They'd Like To Admit

What team are you on?

woman watching tv and man watching sports Kool Shooters via Pexels / Gustavo Ferreira via Unsplash / BNMK 0819 via Canva

Watching TV is an essential part of understanding any culture. The shows we watch represent the corners of society we’re interested in. Whether we choose competitive cooking shows or true crime series, it’s pretty much agreed upon that watching a show is a solid way to unwind and enter a world that’s different from our own lived reality.

There are some aspects of television consumption that have historically been seen through a gendered lens. Picture a group of guys, sitting around on a Sunday afternoon watching football, or two women texting each other while watching their favorite season of Real Housewives. 


While it's typically believed that men and women generally don't understand the other's preferred viewing content, it turns out they're more similar than you might think.

Women who watch reality TV and men who watch football have way more in common than they might want to admit.

The overarching cultural attitude towards reality TV has been that it’s mindless content, “trashy” TV, rooted in gossip, intense relationship drama, and the outfits the cast members wear. It’s a form of entertainment typically starring women, and also consumed by women. 

According to a 2016 survey from Statista, the majority of people watching reality TV are female. That fact alone means that a lot of men have capital “O” Opinions on the topic. Reality TV is seen as vapid and empty, and the people consuming it are often stereotyped that way, too.  


Upholding that viewpoint cuts women down. It minimizes and discredits our interests in a calculated and overtly misogynist way.

Flipping that essentialized, gendered narrative would hold that men who watch sports are equally as vapid. It would be easy for any non-athletic-leaning person to stare at the screen during any given game and think, “There’s literally nothing happening.”

woman watching tvPhoto: Andres Ayrton / Pexels 


The way that sports and reality TV reach their audiences may differ, but their end goals are essentially the same.

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Both reality TV and sports feature extreme drama and tension.

It could be a group of Real Housewives drinking wine to the point of getting a little too loose, or it could be the ever-sloppy Scandoval. Either way, viewers stay hooked. Almost every scene in a reality TV show is inherently dramatic because the shows deal with very real human emotions that are often exacerbated by pressured social situations.



Sports serve the same function, which is to deliver drama. That drama just manifests in a different way. Close your eyes during any NFL game and you’ll hear audible waves of emotion— triumph and disappointment, joy and loss, manifesting in the way fans yell. 


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Sports fans and reality TV fans also share an intense level of devotion to their one singular interest.

The typical football fan spends the season entirely invested in their team. There are drafts to watch and obsess over; there are fantasy leagues to join and obsess over. Football fans know everything about their favorite players — stats, nicknames, and whatever silly little dance they do when they score a touchdown.  

person using a tv remote with sports onPhoto: Jeshoots.com / Pexels 


In the same vein, people who watch reality TV will obsess over every single move of the characters they love, the ones they hate and the ones they love to hate. Anyone who watched Vanderpump Rules can make a detailed flowchart of who slept with who, and who got double-crossed by someone they thought was their best friend.

Both reality TV and watching sports offer people a way to decompress.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if the shows that appeal to you are considered mindless or high art. They exist to serve a purpose, which is to let people enter an imaginary world, where they can shift their focus from their own everyday stress and struggle to something else, something that exists far outside their own world. 

For the sake of full transparency, I should say that I don’t watch sports or reality TV. Both make me feel overstimulated and confused, the opposite of what should be a relaxing pastime. Yet I don’t look down on either form of entertainment, or the people who do partake in them. To do so would show a lack of innate compassion. It would also be dismissive of the fact that different people like different things — and neither one is superior to the other. 


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.