Oct 4 2013 1:30pm

Voyeurism in Reality TV: Why We Love Sister Wives, Breaking Amish, and Fringe Culture

Katie Porter (the writing team of Lorelie Brown and Carrie Lofty) has a new release in their Vegas Top Guns series, titled Bare Knuckle, with a fighter pilot/boxer as a hero, a guy who's used to being scrutinized in the cockpit or the boxing ring. So in his off-time, Eric likes to be the one doing the watching. The Lorelie Brown half of Katie Brown joins H&H to talk about the appeal of voyeurism.

Bare Knuckle is the last of the Vegas Top Guns books, and it’s hot and fun and has fighter pilots and boxing and plenty of steam!

And a voyeur hero.

He’s not a creeper. I promise. There’s a giant element of consent in his kink—he likes to know that the women he’s photographing and videoing are into it.

And I think that’s the same reason I love reality TV lately.

When it first became a thing, I didn’t like the idea. It kind of creeped me out a little. Cameras would follow people around and then we’d get to see it all? Like, real stuff? But…that’s so…exposing? Isn’t it?

Well, that’s the thing. Reality TV...isn’t so real. I think we’ve all realized it by now. There’s various levels of real, ones like Sister Wives where they seem a little more honest, but say flat out that they won’t talk about certain things like their sexuality. Cody and his four wives give great interviews where they all sit around and talk about the things that are being shown in the episode. The classic couch interviews that are a staple of reality TV shows.

And then there’s Breaking Amish, where they’re supposed to be on their first adventure into English, non-Amish life, but it turns out that they’ve all taken a walk on the wild side already. (For the record, I watched Breaking Amish: LA. Mostly because I hadn’t heard of it before then.) And then there’s the timing: Only days after a drunken night involving Iva, Devon and Betsy that ended in who-knows-what, as carefully snipped away by the film editors, Iva’s boyfriend from back home just happened to visit. Uh-huh.

But that manipulation doesn’t make it an invalid show. Because what the viewers want isn’t every bitty scrap of the participants’ lives ripped open. I don’t think, at least. What we want is a peek. A taste.

We want to know what we didn’t know before we turned the show on. We want to know about the little caps and plain dressing that the Amish wear (even if many of the participants didn’t wear them on a totally regular basis before doing the show) because that style of dressing is something we didn’t know about before. When I watch, I love seeing contrast. I love seeing Cody and Robyn and Janelle and Christine and Meri having to balance between five people when building four houses, and the different logic that goes into Meri getting a five bedroom house even though she only has one kid. (She wanted a wet bar, y’all. So she had to have five bedrooms. *earnest nod*)

And then I turn off the TV and go back to my ordinary life of soccer practice and taking a kid’s lunch to school because they forgot it on the counter and coming home to write books. (Which, come to think of it, some people might think was worth a voyeuristic little peek. I forget sometimes how cool my job is.) Watching reality TV is different from my life—but it’s just scripted enough for me to know that they’re in on it. The people on the shows know what’s going on, and we’re not just totally taking advantage of them by watching these shows about their lives.

I feel a little bit like a voyeur when I eagerly wait for Meri’s decision about trying in vitro fertilization in order to have another kid. But it’s okay.

Meri likes it when I watch.

Learn more or order a copy of Bare Knuckle by Katie Porter, available October 8:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble



Katie Porter is the multiple award-winning writing team of Lorelie Brown and Carrie Lofty, friends for so long that they've stopped counting the years. Carrie holds an MA in history, loves movies, and has no fear of gross things like dissecting formaldehyde sharks. Her two daughters aren't appreciative. Lorelie is a US Army veteran and true-crime devotee, whose three boys love when she screams like a little girl around spiders.

Since launching the glitzy “Club Devant” series, set in a New York City burlesque club, the duo will return to their military-themed roots in the summer of 2014 with the adventurous, La Femme Nikita-inspired “Boston Boys” series.

To learn more about the authors who make up Katie, visit or follow them on Twitter at @carrielofty, @LorelieBrown, and @MsKatiePorter.

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Carmen Pinzon
1. bungluna
I've loved all your books and am eagerly awaiting the next one. I can't say I've ever enjoyed reality tv or even thought about voyeurism, but that's what makes your books so great for me: they allow me to peek into a kink I may not necessarily want to explore in my real life. I just wish there were more pilots for you to write about!
Katie Porter
2. KatiePorter
Thanks so much for that!!

We'll be sorry to see our pilots go too, but there's always next year's Boston Boys. They'll be more military hotties, and their covert unit will let them do all sorts of tasty hot things.
Carmen Pinzon
3. bungluna
Got it, read it, loved it! I didn't think I was going to like Kisser, but he turned out to be a great tortured hero. Thank you.
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