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Nothing screams millennial more than streaming “Master Chef Junior” on Netflix to intentionally induce cathartic self-loathing.

Why I Watch Child Prodigy Reality TV With My Friends

The Benefits of Pity Party Tuesday

Nothing screams millennial more than streaming “Master Chef Junior” on Netflix to intentionally induce cathartic self-loathing.

By Jill Phelan, Saint Vincent College


Last year, my friends and I made a habit of meeting up every Tuesday to watch three TV shows that entertained, yet humbled us: “MasterChef Junior,” “Dance Moms” and “Child Genius.”

The running theme of these television programs centers on young prodigies who have accomplished more by the age of ten than we—supposedly in the primes of our lives—would probably ever be able to achieve in a lifetime.

And thus, Pity Party Tuesday was born in the humble dorm room that is Wimmer 226.

Starting at eight o’clock every week, my squad and I marveled at the culinary talents of a six-year old with pigtails, envied the graceful movements of a ten-year old in tights and gaped at the vast intelligence of a twelve-year old with braces. I’ve often been told that reality TV isn’t a true depiction of life, but the kids on these shows were definitely the real deal. There was no faking what they could do.

With some greasy junk food and juicy gossip during commercial breaks, the girls and I looked forward to our meetings every Tuesday night to share in some quality bonding and much needed self-loathing.

Why I Watch Child Prodigy Reality TV With My Friends

It may seem odd that we wanted to make a routine of partaking in an activity that made us criticize our own abilities (especially with media nowadays pushing the message to love yo’self), but honestly, I think that we managed to harvest more good than you’d think from our little get-togethers, which enticed us to keep coming back for more.

Aside from the fact that we as a group of young, impressionable females found some twisted pleasure in feeling sorry for ourselves, I believe we also used the great success of those children even younger than us to make us want better for our own lives. Nothing says motivation like self-deprecation (sort of).

I can’t think of a better way to inspire yourself to reach for the stars than by stuffing your face full of cheese sticks while you watch a third grader brulée pear slices.

Okay, I can think of like fifty other ways that would be more effective, but you have to work with what you’ve got and focus on the positives. At least you’re not stalking actual kids and taking notes. That would be creepy, if nothing else.

All joking aside, college can really take its toll on you. I for one have never wanted to quit something so badly since tee ball.

The constant stresses and pressures of school can make it difficult to keep focused on the light at the end of the tunnel—that is, your future career. That is why it’s super important to find ways to motivate yourself and remind yourself why you’re enduring hell in the first place.

For my friends and me, Pity Party Tuesday did the trick. It served as a method of reflection, a time when we could marvel at other’s success and desire that same greatness for ourselves.

After all, if a child half my age could memorize all the parts of the human body (and their ridiculous spellings), then what was stopping me from writing a term paper or reading a four-hundred page novel? Answer: me—I am my own worst enemy, next to Netflix, of course.

Seriously, if Netflix asks you whether or not you are still watching your TV show, chances are your eyes have been affixed to the screen for too long and you need to get back to studying. Binge watching can be like falling into a coma, and before you know it, you’ve been in the same ratty sweatpants for two weeks with chocolate smeared on your face, not sure whether it’s Wednesday or Saturday. For your own good, just don’t tempt yourself like that. But I digress.

The traditional hangouts with my peeps provided us with another benefit, too. They became opportunities to relax and let our minds take a break from working so hard.

For two hours each week, we would put down the books, chat it up and laugh our stresses away while our brains recharged, passing our thinking caps off to the little kids on TV.

Take a page out of the ever wise Jimmy Buffet’s book and just chill out for a bit—so long as you’re ready to get back to work when you’re done. Don’t just waste away in Margaritaville. You can divvy up your tasks by relaxing every now and then, but only if you’re disciplined enough to stop yourself after an hour and a half or so.

My point is that you’ll never accomplish your goals if you’re all work and no play (well, maybe you will, but you run the risk of being miserable and losing yourself in the process).

If you’re going to watch anything during your breaks, I would recommend viewing something on TV as opposed to something on your Netflix app. Like I mentioned earlier, it can be harder to tear yourself away from a program when the whole series is at your fingertips. At least with the television, you’re not as in control, and you have commercials to deter you.

That’s why Pity Party Tuesday was the perfect solution—the three shows were over by ten o’clock, and after they were, we didn’t need to catch up on any episodes. We had no more excuses to keep us from our projects or from going to bed.

And if you’re like my friends and me and happen upon some shows that motivate you to do well in your studies, then you won’t go looking for reasons to avoid your work in the first place. It’s a win-win situation.

Moral of the story, kids: you’re young and capable, so find what inspires you and hang on to it as you face the perilous journey ahead of you—just don’t forget to have fun along the way.

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