The Issues of Reality TV

Reality TV has radically altered the landscapes of celebrities, politics, and power. 

“I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to win.” So goes the ultimate reality TV cliché, once popularized by the first season of Survivor. Although reality series aren’t exactly well respected, critics, social scientists, and even fans never stop unearthing revelations about their crass manipulations and toxic tropes. Yet despite all the antipathy directed at these programs, they’ve conquered the culture and claimed their prize: our attention. 

Be that as it may, research has shown that while mature audiences may be able to distinguish between reality and reality television, it’s harder for children and adolescents to do so. The effect of reality shows on youth can range from positive effects to very negative ones. For example, reality shows often include partying, drinking, and focusing on materialistic things, which can essentially distort core values. These shows also hold unrealistic images of success, as well as unrealistic beauty standards. Many reality TV shows promote the idea that a person’s value is based on their appearance, which increases the likelihood that children will compare themselves to the people on the show, which can result in low self-esteem. 

Moreover, these shows can affect the audience’s overall outlook on life and cause mental distress. Viewers can end up being dissatisfied with their accomplishments and less appreciative of the life that they are living, and over time, this can generate depressive behaviors. Another issue surrounding reality shows is that they normalize aggression and bullying. With the camera being so focused on the drama and gossip, it is projected that female relationships are divisive and competitive and that being mean is the only way to earn respect. 

These shows have become such a cultural phenomenon in many ways, and people often think they feature real people in unscripted situations. But these shows are just low-quality television, and it slowly destroys more established traditional cultural habits. Usually, the program makers try to ensure excitement by picking people who are likely to clash with each other and then placing them in unnatural situations, such as the Big Brother house or the Survivor island. And after the makers film their victims for hundreds of hours from all angles, they only show the most dramatic parts. 

Given these points, it is clear that “reality” TV distorts the truth. These shows aren’t “real”– they are carefully cast to get a mix of “characters” who are not at all typical. All things considered, these shows are slowly changing what average TV should be like, and over time, every show will possibly contain elements that were once only seen in reality TV.


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