While it can be argued that reality television is a vast, useless cesspool with little, if any, educational value, I have to think that at least some of my time spent in front of the tube has been justifiable. It's certainly not doing anything for my fitness level, after all, unless you count rolling on the floor laughing or extended groaning as cardio. I'm happy to report that there are some helpful tips to be found in this morass of lowbrow entertainment, although some of them have to do with proper uses for a spork.
Throwing a big, infantile fit isn't just embarrassing -- it can get you voted off a show... (Astro, "The X Factor"
...or it can make you the focus of an entire season. (Taylor Armstrong, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"). So, it just depends on whether you feel any attention is good attention.
Always cook your proteins last. (Heather, "Top Chef")
Narcissists can pretend to be sad -- or even cry! -- when someone commits suicide. (Kyle, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills")
Even serious journalists get the giggles sometimes. ("AC 360") Another lesson? If it's non-fiction, it's reality TV, people. Besides, this clip is decidedly not news.
Being annoying and shrill is still better than being whiny and lazy. (Rachel vs. Kalia, "Big Brother")
If your boyfriend breaks up with you because you dress too provocatively, he's probably a jerk anyway. (Snooki, "Jersey Shore")
If you stick something in a storage locker, no matter how valuable it is, you'll eventually forget about it and someone else will get it for cheap. ("Storage Wars")
Pot Ledom is either Top Model spelled backwards, or simply another handy sign that Tyra Banks has gone batcrap crazy and needs medication ("America's Next Top Model").
Walls in Italy are sturdy, so don't go banging your damn head against them (The Situation, "Jersey Shore")
Shaggy, unwashed rockers do not benefit from designer duds (the Sheepdogs challenge, "Project Runway")
If Gene Simmons can finally suck it up and propose, anyone with a pulse can get over a fear of commitment. (Gene and Shannon, "Gene Simmons Family Jewels")
People love you if you get through rehab, though it helps if you can sing a little. (Chris Rene, "The X Factor")
If you're going to tear apart a whole pig, there are better implements to use than your mouth. Hell a spork would be an improvement, really. ("Survivor")
Whatever you do, don't take art supplies from Meatloaf. Ever. ("Celebrity Apprentice")
Having a truly tragic sob story will take you far, but not into the live show. (Chris Medina, "American Idol")
Children should never be dressed up as hookers. Even if the hooker is Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman." Oh, and putting your kid in a padded bra to impersonate Dolly Parton? Justifiable call to Social Services. ("Toddlers & Tiaras")
No matter how nicely you dump someone, if they've gone to the trouble of proposing they're still going to be pissed off, especially if you're running off with someone they know. (Ashley and Ben, "The Bachelorette")
There are many more I could list here, but really, all this learning is making my head hurt.
What strange life lessons have you picked up from reality TV this year?
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Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.