REALITY TV: WHAT’S THE DEAL?

It’s no secret that some of the most popular shows on television are reality tv shows. Ever since MTV’s The Real World made its debut in 1992, people have been sucked into the phenomenon of watching seemingly normal people on television.

I was in my early teens when reality television started to become more mainstream. I remember 13-14-year-old Kelsee watching the first rounds of Survivor, Big Brother, and The Bachelor. Guess what? Some variation of those shows is still running today. Clearly, something about them entertains the masses and keeps the viewers tuning in. My theory on why: People like to judge others, whether it’s serious or not, and reality television gives them a safe place to do it. Think about it – you watch it (even if you loathe the idea of the show) and then go rant about it on social media or chat it up with your friends. It’s a wide open door for judging others.

Let’s use two of my favorite shows as examples: Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelorette.

Dancing with the Stars:

This particular season had the public talking! With popular contestants eliminated right and left and some subpar dancers pushed through closer and closer to the finals, people got salty fast. Each contestant was ranked by a judges score and by votes from the general public. In this particular season, judges scores were being clearly outweighed by the general public’s votes. The judges are tasked with evaluating the participant’s technique & performance.

Yet, if their input is being outweighed by the votes of the general public, what really is this show? A popularity and personality contest judged by the voters.

You can watch the show and observe some really great dancers, but only vote (or not vote at all) for the names you recognize, leading to the popular celebrity who isn’t necessarily the best dancer to rank high on the leaderboard. If the judges don’t like a particular celebrity, but the public does, their votes really don’t matter. Such was the case this season when David Ross (of Chicago Cubs fame) kept moving towards the finals when other celebrities with higher judges ranks were eliminated due to public votes for Ross. Social media was ON FIRE when audience favorites Nancy Kerrigan, Heather Morris, Simone Biles, and finally Normani Kordei were eliminated.

While it’s always fun to see the performers improve from week to week and vote for your favorites, you are acting as a judge of sorts. As a viewer, you’re deciding whose performance was better and who you want to send home.

The Bachelorette:

Ah, the show we all love to hate, but can’t stop watching. If you watch this show, you’re probably drawn in by the “fairy tale” aspect of it all. Who gets to take their dates on trips to castles or to perform with boybands? WHO DOES THAT? The Bachelorette does that! It’s entertaining to see the theatrics of these well-curated love stories, even when they seem super far-fetched. The viewing public gets wrapped up in the drama of the crazy contestants – who is the most macho? Most emotional? Who has a ridiculous job? We watch them and decide who should land the final rose from “The Bachelorette” long before the season is over, just because of our assumptions and observations.

Think about it: Viewers watch the show and judge the contestant on who she chooses to take on a one-on-one, who she gives roses too, and how she behaves with her particular suitors. People get super angry about the results on social media all the time. Yeah, I get that she’s dating on national TV, but come on! It’s 2017, “The Bachelorette” can really do what she wants. Plus, observing the drama of someone else’s life makes me glad that my dating life is not nearly as dramatic.

I think it’s safe to say that this genre is going to stick around for at least another 20 years. Why? Because there is a reality TV show that’s relatable to everyone. It’s a huge genre that encompasses local networks and cable networks – making these shows available to everyone!

Do you watch reality TV? What’s your favorite show? Do you “hate watch” or seriously invest in the show?

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Kelsee Hankins
Kelsee’s a busy creative professional from the Midwest United States. Aside from all of her creative pursuits (music, theatre, writing -- to name a few), Kelsee enjoys volunteering in her community, spoiling her amazing nephew, and updating the world about her life on social media! Head over to KelseeBHankins.com to keep up with all of her latest endeavors!
Kelsee Hankins

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