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BG Falcon Media

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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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The truth behind reality television

As most college students are adept to the cultural world around us, we are likely aware of the staple reality television has put in our society. A look at last week’s primetime Nielsen ratings are indicative of this: Tuesday night’s “American Idol” took No. 1 in the ratings, with Wednesday night’s “American Idol” following at No. 2. “House and Survivor: Palau” also made the top 10.

While FOX carries “Idol,” it also airs “24,” “The Simple Life,” “My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss” and “Nanny 911.” “Survivor” is on CBS, which also airs “The Amazing Race.” To date, CBS has had 10 “Survivor” seasons, four for “Big Brother” and six for “The Amazing Race.” NBC’s schedule includes “The Apprentice” and “Fear Factor,” while ABC has “The Bachelor,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”

That’s a lot of reality on the four major networks. I miss the days when primetime shows like “Full House” let me escape reality for a half hour, but I’ve been sucked into this reality thing.

Little did I realize the process was starting when I started watching “Real World” and “Road Rules” around age 14. Back then, reality television was unknown. Then in 1999, “Millionaire” came out, followed by “Survivor” and “Big Brother,” while “Idol” was just a couple years away.

Viola, like that reality television stamped itself on the boob tube and its ink has yet to wear off.

Since I’ve never known what attracts me or anyone else to reality television, I thought it would be interesting to research.

All the while I was reminding myself that I think “Idol” is full of sub-par singers, and I do not know why I watch it every week.

I found a 2000 article titled “TV Gets Real” from the Current Events magazine, whose sources offered different explanations as to why viewing audiences like reality television.

While the phenomenon has certainly progressed since then, I tend to agree with some of their points.

Mary Ellis Bunim, co-creator and producer of “The Real World,” suggested reality television reminds us of our own lives. I will say that all my favorite “Real World” and “Road Rules” members have been the ones who most resemble my personality.

Conrad Kottak, an anthropology professor at the University of Michigan, explained that this popularity may exist because we secretly like to see others embarrassed.

I agree wholeheartedly with Kottak’s opinion. Don’t get me wrong here — I do not enjoy seeing people embarrassed in my everyday life. When someone trips on the sidewalk on their way to class, I’m not one to stand around laughing, because, A.) I have done that before, and B.) I’d rather help them up.

However, television is not really my real life.

I watch Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, two people I find quite disturbing, on “The Simple Life” because I think it is funny seeing rich Hollywood snobs make fools out of themselves on national television.

There have been a few select “Idol” contestants whom I’ve thought had annoying personalities, and I’ve always been happy when they got kicked off.

Paul Romer, executive producer and creator of “Big Brother,” said reality shows bring excitement that regular shows lack.

“It’s like a baseball game,” Romer was quoted as saying. “Even when the game isn’t interesting, you wait and stay because the next hit could be a home run.”

I have to agree here too. I find the fights and problems on “Real World,” some of which can last all season, much more exciting than the fight and make up in 30 minutes sagas of regular television.

Awkward situations on reality television just hit closer to home, and I relate to them more.

It is like I sometimes ask myself when watching old TGIF shows: Who really settles their problems in 30 minutes (well, unless when you include commercials)?

That’s just not reality.

Send comments to Nicole at [email protected].

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