This time last year, I was flipping through Hulu, wondering what to watch on a chilly day. I landed on Jersey Shore, a classic exploitive show on Italian American adults partying all night long. It was gritty, authentic, and drama-filled: the trifecta of good Reality TV. Like many other shows, Jersey Shore relies on taking on someone’s most vulnerable moments and blasting to millions of viewers for judgment. I use this older example because it was the beginning of the Reality TV sector that paved the way for shows to come.
Now, Reality TV is everywhere. On every network, a “new” insight into the lives of an extreme group of people airs. These polarizing individuals go on in hopes of fame and fortune but end up as has-beens with all of their dirty laundry plastered on every entertainment website. When casting a show, producers look for people they can manipulate. That’s wrong. The audience gives into this by tweeting out our opinions on someone’s life that they have no control over. Editing can make a Reality TV star into a villain, an underdog, or a love interest. Their lives become a fairytale story that we consume.
I, myself, am a part of this problem. I have watched every episode of Real Housewives. I judge every girl and guy who walks across the screen as if I know anything about them. Reality TV is cheap to make and will continue unless we, the audience, take a stand. It has also become more explosive to make “better” TV. Scandals need to be bigger to make the front page of Daily Mail. Hence, producers of shows create situations that affect people’s lives forever. This is my plead to you to make a change. I understand wanting authentic drama, and to that, I say try a documentary. They are real-world glimpses into people’s lives that are just as explosive as Clare and Dale on the Bachelorette. Documentaries aren’t manipulative in nature, and you might even learn a thing or two.
So, please, stop watching Reality TV.