Observations: Why reality television will follow us into the New Year

Lindsay Carey [2014] Web


Reality television shows are usually either something you love or you hate. For those of you who hate it, unfortunately the phenomenon isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I predict 2015 will be yet another big year for shows like “The Bachelor”, “Catfish” and “19 Kids and Counting.”

I have mixed feelings about reality television. I definitely have my list of reality shows that are being recorded on my DVR. Some of my reality show indulgences include “Dance Moms” on Lifetime, “Snooki and JWoww” on MTV, and “Giuliana and Bill” on E!.

Last Sunday, I turned on “Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons,” another Kardashian spin off, and watched as the family pulled a prank on their mother and went horse back riding. I began to wonder why I even bother keeping up with the Kardashians and the only thing I could really come up with is that I always had.

I know the show is scripted, because the arguments they get into are unconvincing, the surprises feel more like set ups, and they all look perfect 99 percent of the time on the show. There’s nothing real about the show. The first couple of seasons were more entertaining, before the Kardashians became a household name. Although, I’m sure the episodes were still staged, at least we could all relate to their problems of sibling rivalry and relationship dramas. Now, I can’t even relate to these people.

Since we’ve exalted reality television stars to the status of celebrity, the shows have become more and more out of touch with the audiences who tune in every week. We as a society have cared for a long time about the personal lives of our favorite musicians and actors, and now we have added once normal individuals to the list.

For example, recent tabloids and entertainment news outlets have exposed the mother from the TLC reality show “Honey Boo Boo” for dating a man who allegedly molested her daughter. Or what about reality stars Teresa and Joe Giudices from “The Real Housewives” and the coverage surrounding their sentencing to jail for fraud? Even if you don’t watch reality television, I’m sure you’ve heard about some of these kinds of stories. So why do we care? Why do we tune in even if only to criticize them for their choices?

I say it’s because of social media. Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have nurtured a habit of oversharing. I think we all have friends on social media websites that overshare. They make incessant posts about their jobs, spouses, children and basically every small part of their day. It’s really annoying, but if a reality television star posts the same thing we somehow fixate on it.

This is because reality television stars let us into their homes and show us what their everyday life is like. As a result, we feel like we know these people and are entitled to know everything about them even though they don’t even know we exist. We tune in to celebrate their highs and shoot them down for their lows, because their lives are an open book.

We make these people celebrities, because they are willing to share everything with us for fleeting fame. Unlike a lot of musicians, actors, and fashion designers who typically try to maintain some privacy, reality television stars make sharing their lives a career.

Social media is extending reality television star’s fame, because it allows them more opportunities to overshare.

To my point, Kim Kardashian West has over 24 million likes on Facebook, over 23 million followers on Instagram, and over 26 million followers on Twitter; not to mention the paparazzi following her every move. Even though, I think we’ve all heard someone say that she’s famous for no reason.

Reality stars are famous because we care. Despite some reality shows being cancelled, they are quickly replaced and we all welcome a new set of stars into our homes from week to week. The truth is until we stop caring about the personal lives of people we will never meet— and reading about every move they make— reality television will continue to thrive and reality stars will continue to make money.

Lindsay Carey is a staff writer for The Observer.

Leave a Reply