Reality Television 


Erika Ocegueda (12th), Reporter

A prominent genre, currently dominating TV networks, is none other than reality television. Reality shows are shot documentary-like but with a less formal tone. There are wide ranges of shows within the genre, all with different tones and moods. Although reality TV shows are meant to be a reflection of our world and the people within it, most of them are actually quite far from it. 

Reality television has been around for quite a while. It’s changed quite drastically since then. In the 70s, reality shows were on PBS and were more reflective of actual life. An American Family was a show broadcasted on PBS which strove to show the everyday life of a family in the U.S. The show managed to do just that, but had accidentally ended up showing the process of a family falling apart—that is to say that it had not ended well for the Loud family. 

The genre rose in popularity at the start of the 2000s when shows like Survivor began airing and rising in popularity. This jump-started the success of the genre and the eventual overflow of similar media. 

Now reality television is much different. Whole networks have been created centered around the genre. Networks like E!, Bravo, MTV, and TLC tend to only show reality television.

Though they advertise “authentic” real-life drama and people, most reality tv shows tend to be somewhat scripted. Shows like Cake Boss, Pawn Stars, The Bachelor, and Catfish, have all had evidence indicating that they are scripted and dramatized for television. Outrageous situations are fabricated for the entertainment of the viewers. Reality television had stopped being about a true reflection of our world, and had started being about fabricated eccentricities—it’s all about the views.

The fact that most reality TV is scripted is not new information. Most people are well aware that the intensely dramatic situations displayed upon their television sets are anything but “real life”. In fact, most people dislike the genre—it’s among the worst-rated television genres. People often think it’s “trashy” or “unrealistic”. Though the recipient of a bad reputation and strong dislike, reality shows have been kept in prominence. The shows continue to strive and people continue watching them. 

Why is that? The answer to this is quite simple. People love to hate it. Reality TV is universally acknowledged as terrible but nevertheless, entertaining. Reality TV tends to be a “guilty pleasure” for people. I know that I’m quite guilty of this as well. The content is so terrible and so exaggerated that it’s hard not to watch—and then, of course, complain about it. It’s fun to criticize reality TV because it distracts from the actual real problems that the world faces. It’s quite the distracter. I have no problem admitting that my Youtube feed is filled with trashy TLC shows; which I’ll then watch, and consequently spend hours within the rabbit hole that is TLC show clips. 

Another avid reality show clip watcher, Maite Farias, had quite the insight concerning the reason she indulges in the genre. “I guess it’s fun to hate-watch sometimes…It’s kind of what most people talk about and make [Youtube] videos on. I used to watch it ironically thinking I was too good for it. It’s really stupid but it became unironic and it was kinda like a guilty pleasure…you know it’s fake but you’re there for the drama. It’s stupid entertainment…but it’s stupid fun.” 

This viewer’s opinion is not much different from mine, and I’m sure not that different from other people who indulge in the genre. Reality TV is pretty bad…but pretty fun to watch. I’m sure that reality TV will continue to prosper and networks will continue to pump them out. There’s no shame in sitting back and enjoying the mindless chaos.