Reality Television (TV) is a very broad genre of television where just about any topic can become the focus of a show. People and events are perceived to be filmed in ‘real time’, in their normal or natural environment; this is what allows a show to be called Reality TV. The issue with this genre is in the use of the word ‘reality’. Critics argue that the use of the word ‘reality’ is deceptive to viewers. While Reality TV purports to be a recounting of events in a natural and realistic order that is relatable to viewers, is misleading because production teams manipulate footage and script some aspects of the show to grab and keep their audiences’ attention. Editing and scripting to make the show more interesting can infact hurt society. Television is a way to see other parts or other views of the world and how people should be towards eachother. But Reality Television effects how people then behave and interact with eachother, with reality game shows showing the manipulativeness of a human, reality drama shows showing the aggressiveness or bad morals, and actual realtiy television showing the unattainability of other peoples lives.
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Reality game shows are some of the most basic formats for most of its shows. Season after season, viewers will notice that the show’s format never changes. ”It is a challenge for reality television to refresh itself with new formats and series…” (Annette Hill, pg.7), these types of shows are limited and don’t offer new material to enrich the viewer’s perception or knowledge about people or places in the show. The basic format of these shows is to put a group of people from various backgrounds in the same setting to compete and eliminate each other until one remains. For example shows like “Survivor”and“Big brother” that have been around since 2000 are pioneers for this genre. The layout for these shows has never changed.
It is apparent that people see a pattern in the layout of these type of shows, its one of the reasons why they seem to have lost their touch. Shows like “Americas Next Top Model” (ANTM) keep the same concept but they change their theme every other season. Starting the show in 2003 and recently, host and executive producer, Tyra Banks retires the show. The pattern was so predictable that the audience would know who won before the winner was even announced. These shows inform audiences that manipulation of others is the key to survival and winning.
Reality Game shows’ way of keeping their show interesting was allowing the audience to see the contestant’s activities outside of the competition. This is where the cast shines individually; each person with a personified character to play. In an article “ Behind the scenes of reality TV: ‘You’re a little bit daft to apply’”by Elle Hunt, states “A reality television producer who spoke… on the condition of anonymity said she looked for a range of strong characters – larger-than-life personalities, salt-of-the-earth types, show ponies, good blokes the audience would get behind – who were “really open emotionally”…”(Elle Hunt), this shows how people are picked and told what position they play in that show. The people chosen to be on games like “Survivor” usually include at least one person with a counter-personality; in other words, someone who will most likely cause problems within the group. Someone they grow to dislike in a matter of days, keeping the show fresh and interesting whenever something happens between the two. That’s how the show manipulates the casts, it pushes people to act out of character in order to stay on the show.
“ANTM” does use their development of the cast to create an interesting dynamic on the show. In the last cycle there was a girl in the show that was raised in a “predomently white state” and are very open about her political stance. Before the show officially began she spoke about her stance and thus created a a line between the girls early in the competition.The split of the girls were unnatural as they purposely brought a controversial character on the show. Her clips may have been edited to make her seem exaggeratedly political, but this was a move made by the production team. What the producers doesn’t realize is how easily impressionable the human race is.
The personalities created are just for the viewer to get attatched to emotionally, the real manipulation is the people on the show “playing to win”. The goal is that“Their competitive spirit in comparison to the complacent approach of other sitcoms is what makes them distinctive and more relatable.”(mediratta). The shows competitiveness keeps the show fun and interesting, but can sometimes get out of hand. “Survivor” created one of the worst forms of manipulation, ‘alliances’. These alliances were made with in secret and usually were due to people having a similar interest.
In most cases these people felt as if they were better than the rest of the team and worked together to vote the others off. An example of this is an episode of “Survivor” called “Pulling Your Own Weight” where a set of teammates felt as if every one else was lazy and chose to vote out their team mate because he didn’t get fish for the team. They manipulated their other teammates into voting out that person, saying the targeted person said bad stuff about them. And this manipulation can be taken into the real world by a viewer and used to for self gain. Which is not good because these people become selfish and take advantage of good people. Survivor is bad for young minds due to its representation of bad morale.
However, with reality drama shows these bad morals become more prominent. Reality Drama is scripted and is the fakest form of reality television. There is “…a certain amount of control and predictability needed. Even though, reality shows are not scripted in the traditional sense, it is evident that storylines are prepared ahead of filming and editing.” (Paige Williams pg.3). Shows like “The Real Housewives Orange County”(2006) and “Bring It”(2014) are examples of forced and scripted drama. The cast lives there life in front of the camera as they do things they “usually” do. Most of the conversations are about another cast member doing something they didn’t like. Resulting in gossip that then gets around to the whole cast and causes people not to trust eachother.
But this is all due to the production team telling the actors what to talk about in there scenes. These directors create this drama by allowing the actors to express there feelings about a situation. The situations are real but how people deal with them is up to the director. And the editing team creates clips of actors saying things that are hurtful or rude. Other shows like “Love and hip Hop” have become popular for its drama filled episodes, and famous reunion episodes where its clear that the production team has a lot of control over the show.
These shows do not ever focus on the things the show was made for. “Love and Hip hop” in a short summary,“…will follow the lives of rising stars and starlets, all fighting for their chance to make it in the entertainment capital of the world.”(IMDb) It also shows the love life of these artists and who they have in their circle. Although the viewer sees a lot more about the relationships between the artists on the show. There is barely any mention of music except when the people argue about it. The director focuses more on the “real life situations” like pregnancy, rape, death, violence, etc… to keep the show interesting other than the actual music it self. “The show may be compared to actual life situations or present scripted or reenacted moments as live, spontaneous events”( Smith).Plenty of times has the show brought men into the situations and made them act like ‘players’ to spice up their content. But there is never any gain from watching this show, its not educational to some one who wants to get into the industry. it also has a negative effect on people who think this show is real. Other shows that stray away from its topic in order to be more interesting are “Bring it”, “Dance moms” and “Basketball wives” , they all have drama that can derail the shows interest and keeps the audience invested in the show. These Drama reality shows present a lot of the negative and violent content on there shows. Although they do limit it, the producers do promote bad morales that people tend to follow after watching these shows.
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Reality drama shows are so violent and aggressive it can sometimes change how people approach problems.“Reality TV promotes the worst values and qualities in people–and disguises them all as entertainment.” (Taylor).Drama shows like “Love and Hip Hop” promote violence and thus creates an issue in the real wold. Influencing the viewer to do wrong to people or even handle a situation incorrectly. Many of these shows bring attention to real-life situations but handle them wrong. For example a woman dating a man who has a secret baby mother, the woman finds out later.The girlfriend tries to fight the baby mother because her boyfriend did not tell her about the baby mother. “Producers spotlight violent scenes, including fights, insults and humiliations between participants, which can sometimes shock young audiences” (Evelyne).And for any girl who views these shows will most likely deal with the situation in a similar matter.She could face consequences that they were not aware about. Over all these shows just influence people to do things against their morals and can sometimes get them in more trouble then they need to be. Pushing violence is just as bad as showing an unattainable way of living.
With Reality television it can show some peoples life much like a documentary.We see people go through stuff in there life happy and sad, but its usually a person who is wealthy enough to start this show. Though they live in mansions and drive fancy cars the show is to make it seem like these celebirties are ‘just like us’. “These things are now all seen as an idealistic way of life that is unattainable for many people”( Knustson).The unattainable lifestyle is put out there to show off a life the viewer ‘could’ have. “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”(KUWTK) is the perfect show for people who like to watch rich people live. The Kardashians live a lavish life but how they got to this point in very weird and not normal. And the amount of shows like KUWTK makes it seem as if this is how people should live and how they should live. The kardashians were born into a wealthy family, most people are not, so the life of a Kardashian in essentially unattainable.
And watching people with so much money go through issues that everyone else goes through. This makes these celebrities relatable and we see that, but we deal with problems a different way. “poor people will do almost anything to avoid problems.” (Eker) most of the audience deals with problems by avoiding them. But most celeberties deal with their problems with money or their status. For example a celeb goes to their favorite resturaunt to see that it is a long wait. The owner of the restaurant recognizes the celeb and offers them a table and disregards the other people waiting to be seated. Seeing this on a tv screen makes you want to live their life, but most celebrities do not like that they are famous or rich. Yet people watching don’t realize that.
Reality television is a façade that people don’t seem to realize is hurting them more than it is helping them. It creates fake scenarios and lives that people live. The viewer sees a glimpse of the real wold the way the producer wants them to see it. For example the kardashians show a lot of their personal life on the show but they get to choose what stays in and what to cut out of the show. For shows like Love and hip hop the editors create the scences and make a plot of the clips given to them.
Reality television producers are unaware of the negatives because of all the money and views they get. With game shows they can create a manipulative person on the show and through the influence of the viewer. Dramas teach bad morals and allow mild violence to be shown to their audience. And unattainable life styles are idolized and made a goal for people who enjoy reality television. Reality television paints a façade of how life should be. And can also unintentionally effect how the viewer acts or thinks. The people in control of these shows do not realize the type of shows they are creating. In small ways these reality television shows are positive but the overall is negative.
- Eker, T. “The 13 Biggest Differences Between Rich People & Poor People – T. Harv Eker Blog.” T. Harv Eker Blog. N. p., 2018. Web.Nov. 2018.
- Hill, A. (2015). Reality TV. 1st ed. Oxfordshire, England: Routledge.
- Hunt, Elle. “Behind The Scenes Of Reality TV: ‘You’re A Little Bit Daft To Apply’.” The Guardian. N. p., 2017. Web. Nov. 2018.
- Knutson,Megan.”5 Reasons We Should Stop Idolizing Reality TV Shows.” The Odyssey Online. N. p., 2016. Web. Nov. 2018.
- Anonymous. “Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood (TV Series 2014– ).” IMDb. N. p., 2018. Web. 1 Dec. 2018.
- Mediratta, Arshiya. “The Reality Of Reality Television | Youth Ki Awaaz.” Youth Ki Awaaz. N. p., 2012. Web. Nov. 2018.
- Monnay, Evelyne. “Violence, A Key Ingredient Of Reality TV – International Institute For The Rights Of The Child.” International Institute for the Rights of the Child. N. p., 2018. Web. Nov. 2018.
- Smith, Laura.”25 Controversial Reality TV Shows.” List25. N. p., 2018. Web. Nov. 2018.
- Taylor, Jim. “Popular Culture: Reality TV Is NOT Reality”. Psychology Today, 2011, (September 2018).
- Williams, Paige. “Reality television is not Reality”, 2018.p.4.Nov.2018.
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