What is Reality Television?

Although I would like to think I am educated enough to know it is probably better to stay away from pointless television like reality television. But unfortunately, I am hooked. There is no denying it. I started at an early age and it is something I see myself doing into my old age. However, over the years, my perception of reality television has changed. For my first post, I intend to break down exactly how reality television is formulated.

The first thing that needs to be done, is reality television needs to be defined.It is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or sometimes humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded. The line between what is actually real and what is contorted to look like reality has changed over time. The first site of reality television was in the 1940’s. It began with just filming people without scripts. In 1948, Allen Funt’s hidden camera Camera Candid debuted and it showed how ordinary people reacted to pranks. This show has been referenced as the “granddaddy of the reality TV genre.”

Moving into the 1960’s and 1970’s was the first time of the unscripted. observational docusoap in the United States. Many of these shows depicted the ‘everyday life’ of children, teenagers and the family unit. These shows focused on factors impacting socialization and related to the social and cultural ‘concerns’ of western societies at the time. It was used to observe changing structures of the family, rising divorce rates, nature/ future debate, inequality and social classes.

The first sight of American formulated docusoaps was in 1992 with MTV’S The Real World, which had successfully ran for 28 seasons. The producers would take 7 very different people and have them live together in apartments and watch how they deal with world issues. The producers would artificially manipulate situations and produce drama. By doing so, they would be able to show what happens when people are put into intense situations and are no longer nice to each other. These fights were able to captivate an audience.

It was not until the 2000’s until Reality Television saw it’s explosion on the global stage. With the success of Big Brother and Survivor, two shows that are successfully still running, Reality Television was spread all over the world. Additionally in the the 2000’s, enter the Reality Game Show. This type of show has been considered to be a combination of four different types of shows – Reality Docusoap, Reality Game Show, Drama and elements of Reality Talk Show. These shows bring in a competitive element mixed in with some drama. The competition brings out the fights in people that Reality Television viewers tend to feed off of.

My love for reality television certainly began at the height of reality television in the early 2000’s. However after watching it for nearly ten years, I have notice some of the decisions made by the producers that impact the emotions of the contestants. Throughout this blog series I hope to be able to evaluate these decisions of various reality shows and how these decisions impact the viewers of the shows.


3 Comments on What is Reality Television?

  1. skf5159
    January 28, 2016 at 8:50 am (5 years ago)

    Hey Kaylyn, this is a great topic. Please please please do a breakdown of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, my favorite reality TV show. I can relate to your blog so much. Although I know that reality TV can be detrimental to my brain cells, I still love to watch it. I think what would be great is to see you diversify your word choice and go for bolder words to get your readers attention. Even though I think this is a great topic, some might find it boring.

  2. jts5577
    January 28, 2016 at 8:47 am (5 years ago)

    Reality television is considered by many, very pointless. I hope you touch on the fact that anybody could get famous r3eleatively quick just by doing something ridiculous on reality TV. Reality TV has so many facets and it would be brilliant if you touch on society’s obsession with it. Why do we love to see drama in other peoples lives? Is it because we like to think that our lives are not that bad? This topic has so many avenues to go down to.

  3. snw5184
    January 28, 2016 at 8:30 am (5 years ago)

    This topic is going to be great! I really like that you made it something you are really passionate, and probably knowledgeable, about. There are so many controversies and opinions about reality TV, so there will definitely never be a dull moment in your blog series. I like that you introduced with a small history and some background information for those who do not watch reality TV… really good choice! Can’t wait to see where you go with this.

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