A Dose of Reality…. T.V.

Have you ever wondered why so many Americans love watching reality T.V.? There are fans of Survivor, American Idol, The Voice, Master Chef, and the list goes on and on. Also, there are numerous shows throughout the different channels; many shows with the same plot. What exactly are the reasons people are addicted to this type of T.V. show? Why makes reality T.V. so popular? If you find yourself asking these questions, take a look at the facts below as we investigate the meaning behind this T.V. phenomenon.

  • According to the article, “We Are Living in a Golden Age of Reality Television,” reality T.V. is so popular because it gives people an insight into the lives of others. They see how people handle and react to different situations and are given a look into people’s private moments. Lastly, people enjoy watching reality T.V. because it is a chance to compare ourselves with others and feel greater satisfaction in our own lives by not having to deal with a situation that our favorite celebrity is going through or see things we don’t normally see.
  • This type of T.V. genre classifies shows into three different categories: contests, structured reality, and docu-soap. Examples of contest shows include Cake Wars, The Bachelor, and Project Runway. As for docu-soaps, this category is known to dominate reality T.V., because it includes celebrities and drama. These series include The Hills, the Real Housewives franchise, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
  • Reality T.V. first made its appearance in 1948 when Allen Funt turned his radio show “Candid Microphone” into the television show “Candid Camera.” The premise of “Candid Camera” was to film unsuspecting viewers’ reactions to unusual scenarios.
  • Research states that some of the reasons people watch reality T.V. is because it is mindless, they like the drama, it helps them forget about issues in their life or in the world, they become invested in the characters, and it helps them stay informed with pop culture.
  • The most popular type of shows in this genre are cooking, competition, docu-soaps, and the supernatural.
  • A few critics debate the authenticity of this genre. Some say the shows are pre-scripted. This “scripting without paper” scenario allows for T.V. crews to write and develop certain situations for the characters. Others say that during editing, events are arranged in a different order than filmed to add more drama. In an article for The Washington Post, T.V. producer Mark Burnett called the genre “unscripted drama.” These tricks are used to create more compelling television and more outlandish behavior, thus raising the show’s ratings. Survivor, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Hills, and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have been accused of editing the series’ authenticity, and some have admitted to doing so.
  • Along with criticism, there are pros and cons for reality T.V. As for the pros, contestants on competition shows receive awards, prizes, and a sense of achievement for their worldwide success. Plus, America is introduced to unknown talent and skills. Also, it is a cheap source of entertainment that propels unknown strangers to instant celebrity status. Reality shows are less expensive to produce than scripted T.V., causing more shows to be developed. Lastly, it promotes various brands, regions of the country, and a better understanding of the world around us. For example, viewers can see what it is like in other countries, thanks to Survivor, The Amazing Race, and other travel/competition shows. For the cons, some say these series don’t portray reality, cause wrong notions about certain situations and ways of life, exploit individuals and families, promote aggressive behavior and fake personalities, and are wastes of time and energy.

Whether you watch reality T.V. or not, one can admit this genre has a huge following. Throughout the years, these series have skyrocketed to popularity with more shows being added each year. What is your favorite, can’t-miss reality T.V. show?


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