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Reality TV transcends all borders

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kim_Kardashian_2011.jpg)

There is no questioning the fact that reality TV has exploded in the last decade. The phenomenon exploded in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the appearance of shows like Survivor and Big Brother. Many popular shows are replicated in various countries, often replicating their populartity.

Some speculate that the reason these shows generate such interest is the unprecedented bringing together of “real” individuals – who don’t portray a character – and broadcasting their coexistence, interactions, drama and conflict. Now, reality TV floors network programming and captivates millions with each new episode.

But why do people devotedly watch it? What do they learn from reality TV’s portrayal of different cultures? Do they accept everything  on reality TV shows as actual reality? We asked a few twenty-somethings their personal opinions of reality TV and its effects.

Sierra Grimm, a fashionista who dreams of moving to New York City and designing her own clothing line likes shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Big Brother, The Bachelor and Real Housewives of Orange County. “I watched the Kardashians for the fashion, because it’s entertaining,” Grimm said. “Reality shows are a good way to gather friends around and have viewing parties.”

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kim_Kardashian_2011.jpg)
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kim_Kardashian_2011.jpg)

Other than that, however, Grimm does not take reality shows seriously by any means. “I think reality shows don’t really worry about whether culture is portrayed accurately, they only care about the money the show will make them,” she said. “I would never get any serious information from a reality show, I strictly watch them for entertainment and to laugh. I like seeing how they react in certain situations they are put in, because I know not all of it is real and most shows are produced and scripted to an extent.”

Sky Egelhoff, loves outdoor activities, enjoys watching reality shows like The Amazing Race and Survivor. “I love the social aspect as well as the competition,” Egelhoff said. “They do a good job of building drama and leave you waiting.”

Now, if they ‘build drama,’ is it reality? “Everything on TV is not real,” Egelhoff said. “While some shows are close, they still emphasize or recreate events in favor of the show and to make it more dramatic and interesting to the viewer.”

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Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gotobermuda/6716935845/)

As far as the cultural representations and accuracy go, Egelhoff thinks reality shows “try their best, but cultural differences make for good TV so sometimes they bypass political correctness and adequate cultural representation to have a better show.”

Megan Black had similar input. “What we see isn’t reality because they pick only the most dramatic personalities and story plots, because that’s what gets views,” she said. “It doesn’t represent all cultures because it usually centers around young adults who live in fabulous destinations like LA or New York, and have money or party a lot, which kind of represents its own subculture but such a small percentage of people actually live like that.”

As it turns out, these students believe reality TV is actually far from reality, and they don’t think culture and diversity are accurately represented, or represented enough. If this feeling could apply to the majority of Americans who watch reality TV, maybe reality TV would have to find a different name.

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12 comments

  1. I would definitely agree that “reality” TV is not reality. Sure, shows like The Amazing Race and Survivor show off some culture within where their contestants are traveling, but the contestants themselves are not portrayed as real. Editing is a powerful weapon in reality TV, it is where the show is really made. Shows like Big Brother have contestants living in a house for three months but only show an hour of each day. It is extremely easy to manipulate footage, and unfortunately I think that has only gotten worse in the past decade.

  2. I agree too. I would never learn anything about culture through watching reality TV. It is manipulated to show you what others think your reality should be. The true reality is, life is not at all how Hollywood makes it out to be. It is good entertainment though! In addition, I was reading other articles on realty TV and its influence on culture and I found this article very interesting! http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/tv-and-culture/reality-tvs-influence-on-culture.htm

    It definitely confirms that reality TV is becoming OUR culture but not teaching us about other’s culture! 

  3. I agree too. I would never learn anything about culture through watching reality TV. It is manipulated to show you what others think your reality should be. The true reality is, life is not at all how Hollywood makes it out to be. It is good entertainment though! In addition, I was reading other articles on realty TV and its influence on culture and I found this article very interesting!

    http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/tv-and-culture/reality-tvs-influence-on-culture.htm 

    It definitely confirms that reality TV is becoming OUR culture but not teaching us about other’s culture! 

  4. Reality TV has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, I seem to be attached to way too many shows. I do agree with what Grimm has to say about the information aspect of it. I do not believe that individuals portrayed on these shows are what “reality” really is, and because of this I have always thought that this word was ironic within the title. I do not use these shows as a source of information at all, just entertainment, and would not foresee reality shows becoming educationally any time soon, if at all. I do find it interesting however how different cultures seem to have their own form of it, or often just watch what is produced in the U.S. The number of things and different topics people have produced reality shows based off of nowadays astounds me as well. You can literally watch any situation turned into “Reality TV”. 

  5. Most of my friends have been obsessed with the Bachelor or the Kardashians and I think it’s kind of funny but I don’t really understand reality TV. Why should someone go on camera and do the same things that happen in my life? Yes reality TV is unifying across cultures but I also think it’s destructive across cultures because things are inaccurately represented and it just skews peoples view on life.

  6. I definitely agree with the other students on this matter. “Reality” TV is far from reality and should be taken with a grain of salt. I do enjoy watching the more “game show” reality tv shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race. Those seem more real to me than Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Beverly Hills Housewives. It’s disheartening to think that these types of shows are the ones that make an impact to the rest of the world. 

  7. Really interesting take on Reality TV here. I would agree with you that it really doesn’t represent reality, but it definitely shapes the way we view reality, which may even be more dangerous. Watching “game show” reality tv shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race can be a fun thing to do with some good friends, but I always have a hard time really getting in to them. However, those seem less scripted than Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Beverly Hills Housewives to me.

  8. I 100% agree with the statement that reality TV is not even close to reality. I, too sometimes watch those trashy reality shows just so i don’t have to put much effort in to watching! ha!

  9. I hate to say it but I love reality TV shows too! Catfish is my favorite, and while I’m sure it’s also really staged, I like that it focuses on the power of social media in our society today…you can fall in love with someone you think you know really well, and then they turn out to be someone totally different!

  10. I agree with what Sarah Grimm said with separating Reality shows from actual reality, but I’m afraid not everyone is able to do that. Reality TV scares me. Taking that big of an interest in someone’s life who will never even give your life a second of thought seems really strange to me.

  11. Love the idea that reality tv isn’t actually perceived as real.  I would argue that the most intelligent, educated people from the most recent generation can clearly interpret what is real and what is not.  Obviously the shows with the most amount of drama will get better ratings, because people want to see what is outrageous.  

  12. This is so true. I think there is definitely a reason that reality TV is also commonly referred to as trash TV. For some reason we find it entertaining but is it potentially more dangerous than we give it credit for? How is it really affecting us?

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