- Pages: 7
- Word count: 1581
- Category: Reality Television
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Reality shows, why do we like them so much? I started thinking about this question, and then I though about how many I actually had watched. Reality shows has become a big trend in our society today. People can become famous for almost anything, and a lot of people seem to think that being in a reality show is the biggest thing that can happen in life.
I think all of us have though about being famous at some point in our life. How nice it would feel to be that athlete, singer or actor that everyone knows. Maybe you always dreamed about becoming a model, a writer or why not just get married to a rich & famous man or woman. I don’t see this as something wrong, I think that everyone, at some point, wishes for that feeling of being someone important and well known. An easy way of having 15 minutes of fame today is to be in a reality show. Today you can probably turn on the TV at any time of day and be able to see a reality show. The market has exploded, and they are almost taking over TV.
We might think that reality television are a new phenomenon, but the truth is that the first reality show debuted in 1973, and it was called An American Family. On Thursday, January 11, 1973, the first broadcast of An American Family changed television history forever. The Loud family were from Santa Barbara, California and consisted of Mother Pat, Father Bill, and their five children Lance, Kevin, Grant, Delilah and Michele.
It was a fascinating documentary series. The members of the Loud family opened up their home and lives for seven months to producer Craig Gilbert, who shot 300 hours of footage. Only 12 hours made it to television. As many as 10 million viewers watched the marital breakup of Bill and Pat Loud and the coming-out of their son Lance. The family complained that the hours chosen for broadcast misrepresented their lives.
After An American Family stopped airing, it took amost twenty years until the reality TV we know today started. The Real World, started in 1992, with the concept of putting strangers together in the same environment for an extended period of time and recording the drama that ensued. Survivor was also one of the first shows to start this era of reality TV that we live in today. After those two, it has just kept on going, and up until today there have been hundreds of shows produced.
There are a number of sub-categories of reality television. One of them is documentary style. In many reality television shows, the viewer and the camera are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional activities; MTV’s Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County in an example of this style of show, with unscripted situations, real-life locations, and no tasks given to the cast, at least, no known ones. Within documentary-style reality television are several subcategories or variants.
Special living environment is one of them. Some documentary-style programs place cast members, who in most cases previously did not know each other, in artificial living environments; The Real World is the originator of this style.
Celebrity reality is very popular category. These shows often show the everyday life of a celebrity. Some of these shows are The Anna Nicole Show, The Osbournes, and Newlyweds. In other shows, the celebritys are given a certain location or something specific to do, like for example The Simple Life and The Surreal Life.
Another type of reality TV is so-called reality game shows, in which participants are filmed competing to win a prize, usually while living together in an enclosed environment. Participants are removed until only one person or team remains, who/which is then declared the winner. Usually this is done by eliminating participants one at a time through voting; voting is done by either the viewing audience or by the show’s own participants.
Probably the purest example of a reality game show is the show that is popular in over 50 countries; Big Brother, in which cast members live together in the same house, with participants removed at regular intervals. No skills are involved in winning the show other than being appealing to others and handling the dynamics of a group well.
Dating-based competition shows follow a contestant on his or her search for the right partner. Over the course of the season, the dates are eliminated one by one until the end, when only the contestant and the final suitor remains. The Bachelor is the best-known member of this category.
Another category is the Job search shows. In this category, the competition revolves around a skill that contestants have. Competitors perform a variety of tasks based around that skill, and are judged, and then kept or removed, by a single expert or a panel of experts. The show is invariably presented as a job search of some kind, in which the prize for the winner includes a contract to perform that kind of work. Examples include The Apprentice (which judges business skills), America’s Next Top Model (for modelling), and Project Runway (for clothing design).
The last category that I will talk about is maybe one of the biggest one. It’s called self-improvement/makeover. These shows can cover a person or group of people improving some part of their lives. Sometimes it can be about changing a house in one episode, and other times it can be a whole season of changing. For example Celebrity Fit Club, where celebs are in the show to lose weight. Despite differences in the content, the format is usually the same. First the show introduces the subject or subjects in their natural environment, and shows us the less-than-ideal conditions they are currently in. Then the people (or house for that matter) meet with a group of experts, who give them instructions on how to improve things. Finally, the people are placed back in their environment and they, along with their friends and family and the experts, appraise the changes that have occurred. Examples of self-improvement or makeover shows include, The Biggest Loser (which covers weight loss), Extreme Makeover (entire physical appearance), Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (style and grooming), Supernanny (child-rearing), and Made (attaining difficult goals).
The name reality television can be misused for several styles of program included in the genre. In competition based programs such as Big Brother and Survivor, the producers design the format of the show and control the day-to-day activities and the environment, creating a completely fabricated world in-which the competition plays-out. Producers specifically select the participants, and use carefully designed scenarios, challenges, events, and settings to encourage particular behaviors and conflicts. This way the producers can control the outcome more or less.
So the question is, why do people want to be in these game shows?
It’s surprising how much people are willing to offer to reach fame. Some of them will do anything for a headline, being mentioned in an article or on tv, just to get their fifteen minutes of fame. They are the ones we love, and the ones we hate. They surprise us, and they shock us. People have an opinion about these people and they don’t walk by unnoticed.
We talk about them at lunch, the newspapers write about them, they are the reality “stars”.
What they ultimately want out of the experience is fame and money. By watching these reality shows, you’ll see just how far some people will go for that.
These reality TV shows wouldn’t be made if we didn’t watch them, so why do we watch them? Either we find them entertaining or we find them so shocking that we are simply unable to turn away. I’m not sure that the second reason is an entirely defensible just because turning away is as easy as hitting a button on the remote control. Some people have a love-hate relationship with reality shows. They don’t really want to watch them, but find it hard not to do so. In the end, people like to watch these shows because they are amusing and we love to see people making fools out of themselves, and we like to see relationships develop as fast as they can crash down.
After have had to put up with all these shows that has popped up on tv these last 10 years, many people have become tired of the recycled jokes and uninspired premises. Many of the latest reality TV shows yield creative premises that play out in unpredictable ways. Additionally, reality TV shows appeal to people because of how easy it is for the audience to relate to the people participating on these shows, as they are real people.
In the world of reality shows it is acceptable to lie, manipulate, and be mean. If you do it in a good way it can even be something that is positive and fun. Is this really how our reality is today? This reality TV trend makes a big impact on our lives. It can make regular men and women instant celebrities who probably would’ve lived a normal anonymous life if they hadn’t made the cut. Does reality shows change our lives? Maybe for a little while, but can anyone name anyone from the first Real World?