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5 Disclaimers to Watch Out For in Reality TV

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Previously, on Too Substantial to Handle: Gen Z, the last generation to know what it’s like to get up early in the morning to catch your favorite cartoons on TV, turns to over-the-top reality TV shows for a daily dose of drama. You name it, they’ve seen it: Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives, Dancing with the Stars…(and I can keep going at it for a while). 

These gossip girls here are a part of the most diverse and accepting generation. Thus, making it less difficult for them to get along with other people from different backgrounds. In today’s times, the increased need for escapism (as a result of the taxing environment we’re living in) has single-handedly made the viewers depend on this facet of entertainment, the kind where the content and characters are lighter, more absurd, and more frivolous. 

Whatever you may call them, ‘empty’ or ‘trashy’, Simon Cowell’s estimation of “talentless'” American Idol contestants will always be viewed as hyperbole and a very accurate one. Therefore, to assuage this practice of criticizing and imitating, a disclaimer or two, or five wouldn’t hurt. 

Objects in the mirror are NOT closer than they appear

Your access to and use of the content is at your own risk. With minimal editing, ‘normal’ experiences, and ubiquitous social media presence, reality TV gives you the illusion of being closer to those people than you actually are. To the full extent permitted by law, it gives daily updates of their comings and goings on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook till the point it feels like you’re staying up-to-date about the neighbor’s life. All of the foregoing content, in no way, insinuates the presence of said Tv tars and their proximity towards the person watching, literally or figuratively. In case of any questions about this disclaimer, contact our office or general counsel.

PSEUDO Confidentiality Clause

The information contained in the transmission of entertainment won’t contain privileged or confidential information owing to the reality aspect of these shows and how they appeal to us. It is intended, specifically for the use of viewers having voyeuristic tendencies. Society, obsessed with seeing other people engage in dramatic conflicts and act like idiots, feels a sense of  “Well at least I don’t act like that”. This is further gaslit by getting the front row seat with VIP access into their private world. Reality TV won’t be responsible when you get a thrill out of this, seeing things you’re not supposed to be seeing. You are hereby notified that any review, dissemination, or distribution of highlights or glimpses is not strictly prohibited as it will raise the sparks of curiosity.

Emotional Investment Provision

Reality TV provides investment services as a distributor of emotions and relatability (shortly referred to as empathy). While a segment of the audience is enticed by the drama, the rest empathize with the reality stars. Many of these stars start as ordinary people and they are more relatable to the viewers since we have been along their journey since day 1. We are the star cheerleaders of their stardom. The ownership of any emotional attachment shall exclusively vest with the investor after they strive to see them grow and not be humiliated. Reality TV is in no way responsible for the views and opinions the investors are quick to take on Twitter to defend the star in any way they can. 

Responsibility who?

To the maximum extent permitted by law, reality TV entities shall not be liable for any indirect, incidental, or consequential damages including social comparison or conditioning. Leon Festinger, an American social psychologist would agree that proximity to the famous is a way of receiving recognition and status for the self. One can use reality shows as a benchmark to indicate where one stands in society. The continuous media and peer pressure on what looks good or what doesn’t results in society and parents stimulating their children to make a success story out of themselves. This is where the obsession with reality TV began. America’s Next Top Model is one such show that carries the flair of triggering the viewer, consequently affecting their thinking and behavior. The competitive and snide aura of the whole show contrasts our values and that is why we’re quick to judge them too. Even witnessing others’ misfortunes prompts a social comparison where we alter our behavior into a forced imagination of how things should be. The limitations of liability shall apply to any theory of liability whether based on negligence or contract. 

Guarantee of Validity – NULL

From a genre of television that revolves around the premise of documenting unscripted real-life situations regardless of them being more entertaining rather than knowledgeable, the least one expects is authenticity. However, the structure and ultimate gain lure the makers to do exactly what reality TV was not supposed to do. In an industry run by brawls, breakdowns, and embarrassing moments, the reality is not often accurately reflected, in ways both implicit (participants in artificial situations) and deceptive (memorial coaches, staged scenes). Please be advised that nothing projected here has originally happened. If not for scripted conflicts, the scenes have been edited and predetermined in a way that sensationalizes the show and hence, the ratings. Reality TV makes no guarantee of validity of the information found here.

12-50 people standing on the other side of a large camera, boom microphones and aiming lights do not leave room for a tad bit of wonder, much less authenticity. In a world where sustained audience attention holds most power, along with Kim Kardashian, the entertainment provided in these shows supersedes any amount of disclaimers proposed.  

Priyal Nanda

Delhi South '23

19| Economics Major "I don't know how much value I have in this universe, but I do know that I've made a few people happier than they would have been without me, and as long as I know that, I'm as rich as I ever need to be." - Robin Williams, 'Mork and Mindy' 1978
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