Maybe you’re an avid watcher or you’ve sworn off ever laying your eyes on a single episode: whatever the case may be, odds are you’ve heard someone in your life discussing some type of reality TV show. From Keeping Up with the Kardashians to Survivor to The Bachelor, reality shows hit home some point or another to audiences. Even though there is a large variety, people tend to group them together under the singular definition of reality TV.
It’s true that this genre does have a bad connotation with it, and yet people can’t seem to resist. Studies show that about seventy percent of Americans watch reality TV, and that is just in the United States alone. So what is so enticing about these particular types of shows? They’re not chalk full of carefully planned out plot points, with meaningful scenes and hidden messages, performed by award wining actors. Why do we love reality television so much?
One of the reasons is quite simple. It’s why we also enjoy shows like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. We watch for the drama and the excitement, and although it may be a different type of drama than those in carefully scripted shows, we still get the same amount of entertainment out of it. Reality shows tend to have their fair share of plot twists and moments that leave us in awe. We’d all be lying if we said the verbal and physical fights weren’t amusing as well. As stupid as those fights may seem, we can’t help but be drawn in to watching others act even more dysfunctional than ourselves. It’s fun to be a spectator as drama unfolds elsewhere, knowing your life isn’t nearly as chaotic as the show you’re watching.
That competition adds to the addiction. As humans we have a natural competitive side that shines through every now and then. Reality shows allow us to pick favorites and route for a winner, as the contestants perform tasks that we may not be able to do ourselves. These types of shows also allow us to compete without ever having to leave the comfort of our couches, while adding the exciting element of picking sides. Our favorite’s victories are our own victories, which makes tuning in every week to see if they win or succeed a thrilling experience.
Reality TV gets a bad wrap for not really being “real” at all, with a lot of shows having been accused of being scripted or staged. While this is probably true, reality shows are still not entirely fake, and do show real people facing real challenges. Of course there is editing, and people may “play up” their personalities or quirks for the sake of the camera;, but at the end of the day, reality TV is still closer to real life than movies or other shows, and that’s what’s so enticing about it. We enjoy watching shows that are relatable or shows that allow us to compare our own lives to.
Whether you are a devoted watcher of reality TV, or someone who views a few episodes here and there as their guilty pleasure, we can all agree that this semblance of voyeurism is entertaining--sophistication and theme aside.