Why Reality TV Characters Keep Us Glued to the Tube

This Thursday, Bravo's The Real Housewives of D.C. airs its season finale (9 p.m. ET). But viewers won't have to wait long for another Housewives installment. Next Thursday, we'll get our first look at the franchise's newest chapter, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Oct. 14, 10 p.m. ET).

ABC's Desperate Housewives, that fictional network hit, still has far more viewers, of course. But for a cable show, The Real Housewives of… series is almost absurdly popular.

Julie Klausner of Salon.com thinks she knows why. The Real stars are just so (unintentionally) funny. They're not playing character types, like Eva Longoria or Marcia Cross; they are characters. "It makes even the most vérité setups and punch lines from scripted shows seem canned," writes Klausner. "Even the best writers couldn't replicate such marvelously unique and broad characters. The Housewives all have personalities grounded in character-based comedy…These are funny women, whether or not they're in on what makes them so funny."

In other words, it's more amusing to hear the New Jersey Housewives tawk the tawk than to hear a scripted character do it. And watching an actress play a rich snob is one thing; but watching an Atlanta Housewife take viewers on a tour of her outlandish home, without a thought to how haughty or spoiled she might appear, is quite another. The total lack of self-awareness is truly entertaining.

Same goes for MTV's Jersey Shore. Snooki and The Situation know that they are characters, and they act accordingly. It will be interesting to see Thursday night's episode of Fox's Bones (8 p.m. ET), when Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) journey to the Jersey shore to solve a guido's murder. Will the characters they encounter be as funny as the real ones on the MTV show? Probably not.

Do you fiind the characters on reality TV far more addictive than fictional ones? Chime in below!

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