Reality TV is a medium of entertainment that is highly decisive, and it’s a genre that seems to take up 50% of all television. The sub-genres of reality TV are varied, and each has their own merits and flaws. Some are innocent entertainment, however, other shows can be seen as quite detrimental and a negative influence.
Mostly speaking, reality shows involving some sort of objective to win are highly entertaining and harmless. Though of course, this depends on what the objective of the competition. Generally speaking, I find shows involving talent to be the most agreeable and the ones that have little or no negative consequences. These are shows like the X-Factor, So You Think You Can Dance or the Voice, where artists are given a platform to showcase their talents. For some, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to attempt to break out of their day jobs or overcome an age barrier that prevents them from accessing the music industry by the normal pathways. These shows are highly valid, as a lot of talented artists are discovered on such shows, and some are given a headstart into the industry. However, there are of course downsides to this set-up. How much responsibility does the show hold over the winner’s success? Realistically, the majority of winners of such shows are never heard from again. These talent shows can be seen as a platform to gain national, or even international recognition, and from there, it is the artist’s own duty to collaborate with producers or exhibitors. It is slightly sad to see artists appear on shows like this and say “This is my only chance.” This is not the right attitude, because the show is not meant to serve you an enduring career on a platter if you win. It’s simply a headstart or showcase for you. Anyone appearing on such a show needs to appreciate that this isn’t the only, or even right, forum to put all your hopes and dreams into. Either the support and guidance given by these talent shows need to change, or people’s faith in them needs to be brought back down to reasonable levels.
Apart from talent shows, there are other competition-based shows that are highly concerning. The biggest example of this is The Biggest Loser. Everything about this show is incredibly disturbing. The show hardly teaches the contestants anything about changing their attitudes towards food and themselves. All it does is push people to their physical extremes, which certainly isn’t a good idea considering the state that these people are in. The contestants engage in turtorous exercise and practically crash diet. To make the show exciting, they’re constantly tempted with junk food to see who will falter. There is nothing encouraging, motivational or realistic about this show. When the contestants return home, they will be faced with work, kids and all the other joys of normal life. Will they really be able to keep up the crash dieting and hours of exercise when nothing about thier mindset has changed? Many contestants from the American edition of this show have been noted to put the weight straight back on. Notable examples are Ryan Benson, who now weighs just 30 pounds less than what he was when he started on the show, Eric Chopin, who also only weighs 30 pounds less than his heaviest state. Studies even show that the intensity of the exercises presented on The Biggest Loser discourages other people from exercising!
There is also a more sinister form of reality TV show, the types that allow viewers to stalk a massively unimportant group of people. Kim Kardashian and Snooki are prime examples of this, making a living from endless drama and having their cosmetic procedures broadcast internationally. No one can argue that these kind of shows are even remotely positive, which is why I simply don’t need to argue an extensive case against them. These shows breed a cult of obsession and promotes lifestyles that are mentally and physically questionable.
But, no matter what types of shows you watch and where you stand on reality television, it is an aspect of our detail-obsessed society. I can simply end with the note that a life of watching reality TV hardly constitutes as being a life.