Why Is Reality TV Still So Popular?


Have you gotten sucked into 'reality TV'? I put it in quotation marks because it's a well-known fact that the shows don't completely represent reality; the scenes that aren't scripted or prompted by producers are often edited to convey a certain story line. Even so, it's pretty obvious that this is a genre of TV shows that isn't going away any time soon. But why is it so successful? Why do we get 'sucked in'? There are several reasons:
  • It's fun to see how other people live, even if it's not completely real. Humans are natural 'busybodies'-we like to see the private dealings of others, especially those who are different from us. I'm not just talking about the rich and famous here, although that's part of it. One of my favorite shows is Wife Swap, where they take two families and 'swap wives' for two weeks. The purpose is for them to walk in the other wife's shoes, but it allows us to walk in them too. Are you a 'preppy' type? Watch what happens when another 'prep' goes to stay at a farm. Are you a 'country girl'? Watch what happens when one goes to stay in LA. If nothing else, it's entertaining.
  • It's 'mindless entertainment'. After a long day staring at expense reports or cleaning up after kids, reality TV gives you a way to rest your mind. There's just something about watching a real-life Ned Flanders move in with Gregory House that makes you forget about that tense conversation with your boss.
  • Acceptable schadenfreude. 'Schadenfreude' is a German word that means taking pleasure at someone else's misfortune. My parents told me that I shouldn't do this, and generally I don't. However, it's hard to feel sorry for the person who gets smacked on Big Brother for harassing his linebacker-built roommate or Kim Kardashian when she gets fussed at for being a whiner.
  • It makes you feel normal. Related to the above, you can't help but feel normal and smart when you watch the antics of some reality TV 'stars'. No matter how strange your neighbors think you are, I doubt you hold a candle to the Kardashians. I'm a total airhead at times, but at least I know that buffalo wings aren't made from actual buffalo! It's rumored that Jessica Simpson was 'playing stupid' for the sake of ratings, but that's beside the point.
  • It's a 'guilty pleasure'. Most of us think of chocolate when we hear that phrase, but it fits here too. Even some of the most 'TV-snobby' people I know have admitted that they've fallen prey to this 'vice'! At least this one isn't fattening.
And now, for the most important reason:
  • Frankly, some of the men are hot. I don't know about you, but I've seen some real hotties on Project Runway and The Apprentice. And that's just the contestants; American Idol fans get to look at cutie Ryan Seacrest on a regular basis! Good-looking and talented-what more do you need? :) This is just my opinion; your mileage may vary.
I don't watch that much 'reality TV', but there are some shows I enjoy. These are my reasons; what are yours?

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