Reality TV showshave become ubiquitous in the schedules over the last few years. Of course, we know that in fact they are carefully edited to give the desired impression, and that there isn’t much reality involved. Here are some of the problems with this type of show.
Remember the days when people became famous for having a talent such as singing or acting ability? It wasn’t that long ago. Now, wannabes are queuing up to get on reality shows, so that they can become famous without actually doing anything to deserve it. And it works. Their pictures are all over the papers, and their every deed is reported.
Because reality shows are relatively cheap compared to, say, drama, they have come to dominate programming. So quality is sacrificed, as more and more reality shows are commissioned. Innovative programming disappears.
While I doubt that the ‘stars’ of such programmes will influence an entire generation, the evidence does suggest that some people want to follow in their footsteps and get on TV via the same route. Now, maybe these people weren’t the brightest to begin with, but it’s sad that anyone should harbour ambitions to be famous for a reality show.
As the genre stretches itself ever more thinly, networks look for new angles. Sometimes, these are so extreme they are scarcely believable. Look at ‘Bridalplasty’ – encouraging women to compete for cosmetic surgery is treating them as freaks.
Many of these shows set up people for humiliation in front of millions. While it can obviously be argued that all involved have given their consent, participants often complain afterwards that the show was edited to make them look bad. Plus, shows about weight loss or aging can be seen as inherently critical.
2010’s UK version of the X Factor caused a lot of accusations that the results were being manipulated to keep certain contestants in, even though the public voted them out. Since the judges have an influence by their very presence, shows like this are clearly not left to chance.
Shows that offer the chance of a recording contract or part in a musical encourage many viewers to think that it could happen to them too. While there’s nothing wrong with having ambition, it has to be rooted in reality; every series contains auditions by contestants who are clearly deluded when they think that they can sing.
Perhaps the worst element of these shows, although it’s hard to decide, is that it promotes the idea of easy fame without the hard work that is normally required. Many truly talented people never get the recognition that they deserve, not only because acting and music are fiercely competitive, but because the more money that is invested in reality shows, the less is available for quality programming.
What do you think of reality shows? I’ve come across a few that I found genuinely interesting, but most seem to me a waste of time. Do you agree? Would you ever appear on one of these shows?
Top Photo Credit: LUCA MAININI / visual artist
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