Addicted to Reality TV

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We've all fallen victim to the bandwagon of reality TV shows, whether it's Survivor, the X Factor, or the less appreciated Flavor of Love. The shows hook us in, and once we start watching them, we can't stop, but why do we love reality television.


Steve Reiss conducted a survey to find out.  He surveyed 239 people asking them a variety of different questions about their viewing habits and their morals and values. He found that, contrary to popular belief, people do not watch reality TV just to have something to talk about with their coworkers the next day. They found that people who watch reality television place a lot of emphasis on fame and status. As they watch reality TV, they see other people who are just random citizens gaining a certain amount of fame. They then relate the contestants' fame to their own life and see how they too could become famous. I'm not sure how much I support this theory because the information is only correlational, and I don't think that everybody who watches reality television wants to apply to be on one themselves.


Another theory is that we are obsessed with reality television because we feel like we have an emotional connection with them and in some ways, have a part in their fates. When contestants talk about their lives outside the show, we see a very normal and relatable side to them, which we know is real in a way that normal television shows are not. Therefore, when they leave the show, we know that they have to go back to their old lives, and many times we don't want that for them. Therefore, we are able to relate to the contestants, which keeps us watching because we become emotionally invested in their success in the show. For me, this theory makes more sense.  I know that I get very emotionally attached to people on reality television shows, because I know that even if the show isn't entirely "real," their lives are.  Knowing that the people will suffer the actual consequences of being kicked off the show, is very intriguing. Regardless, there is something extremely addictive about watching reality television, and it's not a fascination that will end soon.



1 Comment

Last year in my Comm 118 class we talked about the effects of reality and why we watch it. One part of the discussion was that we look down on these people we see on our screen. We watch them and we can say that we are better than those people. That we are more in control of our lives are we aren't trashy like them. However, is some reality TV better than others? For example, The Real Housewives of whatever isn't the same type of reality TV as The Biggest Loser. In this article ( a study was done where over time these "uplifting" reality shows had effects on us that were actually positive. Whether this effect was real or superficial, over time some people were inspired to change their body image.

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