Reality Television

For Reality Television

On any given evening after a long, tiring day at school, we come home to mountains of homework. Instead of treading through this pile of papers, what better way to waste time than to watch people battle it out on a favorite reality TV show?

Despite their name, reality TV shows are not there to showcase reality. In fact, they serve as the exact opposite, a time to relieve ourselves from our realities. A time to take a step back and watch people thrive in an environment we might not have imagined before.

Shows like “American Idol,” “the X-Factor,” “America’s Got Talent,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Top Chef” and countless others help ordinary people who have not yet reached celebrity status to develop their talents and give them a chance to succeed in the big leagues. As watchers, we can see how actors can overcome tough obstacles and perhaps apply these situations to our own lives. In the show “Supernanny,” for instance, a lady comes into a family’s home and attempts to help the parents handle their undisciplined kids. Parents watching the show can use the show’s advice and apply it to their own lives.

There is something magical about an unscripted TV show. Despite their dramatization, reality TV shows seem less forced and show real actions of real people, making them more relatable. Watching people in their natural habitat shows us critical points about human nature and helps broaden our experience by allowing us to live vicariously through them.

Reality TV shows instigate new conversation about what one would do in that specific situation. In shows like “Survivor,”  participants are transported into the desert, or the middle of the forest, and faced with the question: If that were me, what would I do?

Rather than insulting reality TV shows and claiming that they are instilling bad values into the younger generation, we can look at them in a more positive way. People are becoming more educated on topics that they wouldn’t have had access to before. Teenagers can directly see the repercussions of their actions in shows such as “16 and Pregnant” and be influenced not to do something that could be potentially harmful to their own lives.

While they are traditionally considered a bad form of media, reality TV shows have so much more to offer than what first meets the eye. What’s the harm in letting loose and taking in the drama of your favorite reality TV show once in a while?

– Ashna Kumar – Asst. Video Editor –

Against Reality Television

I’m not here to lie to you: I watch my fair share of TV too. Over 96 percent of American families own a TV, and the majority of those families have more than one set. But unfortunately, the rise of the television has brought with it the large and frankly unavoidable genre of “reality” television.

It used to be that if you made a mistake, you learned your lesson. Nowadays, make a big enough mistake and you get your own television show and two million plus followers on Twitter. We, as a nation, provide fame and fortune to those who have done nothing to earn it. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made almost $3 million a season in her time on Jersey Shore. Can you imagine being paid that much money just to make a fool of yourself on television? In April of 2011 she was paid $32,000 to speak at Rutgers University. She provided the more than 1,000 people that came to see her with this moving advice: “Study hard, but party harder.”

Even more infuriating are the infamous Kardashians, who make $10 million a season, not including all of the money they’re paid to attend red carpet events. I’ll admit I’ve seen many episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, something I’m not too proud of, and I swear I’m losing brain cells as I watch. The Kardashians and the Jenners are the perfect examples of people who are “famous for being famous”. They have not shown evidence of any real talent yet they live their lives at the top of the ladder, mingling amongst and befriending actual artists.

Not only do reality shows shower riches upon the undeserving, but the term itself is a complete misnomer. In shows such as Big Brother, Survivor or the Amazing Race, the producers will propose what is called a ‘shooting script,’ or an outline of the episode plan. Shooting scripts provide the cast with things such as storyboards or even flat out conflicts that are to be aired in the episode. Furthermore, many reality shows use a method called ‘frankenbiting,’ where sound and video editors work together to merge random soundbites and/or excerpts from other conversations to create whole new ones: ones that never happened. These are the things we as an audience see and perceive as pure, unscripted “reality.”

Reality television presents to us what is far from reality. If we are to continue turning an everyday ignoramus into a glamorous celebrity, then we must stop and ask ourselves: what kind of message are we sending here?

– Amanda Kim – Asst. Photo/Graphics Editor –