Several times this summer I’ve caught the ABC reality TV show Brat Camp. The show places nine troubled teens in a wilderness therapy camp against their will. They have 40 days to deal with their demons and get home in time for Christmas. The kids have issues with drugs, anger, running away, violence–just about the worst situations you can imagine.
And the show makes me cry.
I’ve talked with other teens who think the show is hilarious, watching these angry, illogical teens rant and swear. And that part is entertaining, if simply because it’s shocking, but I find myself swept into the emotional rollercoaster. I get choked up watching. I think I’ve managed to hold back the tears, but it’s insane how often they well up during the show.
I think it’s a combination of the emotional juicer the show intentionally tries to be, but also because I’ve heard stories like these and I know kids like these (though not usually this extreme) and it just breaks my heart.
The show has been accused of taking advantage of the teens and turning their private therapy into a voyeuristic experience for ratings. And that’s absolutely what happens. That’s an ugly question that no one really addresses (especially the show–what effect does a camera crew have on this therapy).
The phenomena of reality-style celebrity is also kicking in as two of the show’s teens are facing criminal charges.
But despite all that, I still tear up. There I go again.