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The Reality of Reality TV

Judy Zhang, Staff Writer

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A swift tap of the keyboard and numerous articles regarding The Bachelor appear, complete with a Wikipedia page listing the cast members and producers, along with a detailed description of the show’s plot. The buzz surrounding Corinne Olympios, the show’s most dramatic contestant, is endless and the conversation is always filled with gossip and excited cries of “did you see what happened on The Bachelor last night?”

Millions of viewers tune in every Monday night to watch the latest bachelor, Nick Viall, dangle the latest women by his fingertips, creating an addicting, much-anticipated show that leaves fans in shock by the season finale.

The reality that viewers are presented with in “reality TV” is, in fact, anything but. Over time, the genre has gradually diverged more and more from real people and real events, a shift which poses serious consequences not just for viewers but for society as a whole. There are shows where contestants sing while undergoing nauseating experiences, such as stepping inside a container of spiders or snakes all for a monetary prize.

Not only do the aforementioned shows play on embarrassment and humiliation as a substitute for entertainment, they also reinforce the stigmas that people have been trying so hard to break. Shows such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians have ingrained in girls across the nation that if you want to be successful, you must be pretty, be born into the upper class and have a diva attitude.

From American Idol to Dancing With the Stars, reality TV shows have spread across all genres. And yet, despite their differences, they have one common denominator: they’re all fake. Reality TV shows warp its viewers’ perception by showcasing the negative aspects of a person’s personality to stir up drama. They only film the failures, rather than the accomplishments. The viewers might believe that they’re watching something substantial, but the truth is that producers have shot and reshot scenes multiple times until they are staged to a perfect facade of reality.

Reality TV marginalizes people to only a collection of adjectives due to the limited amount of time viewers see these contestants. Contestant X will be characterized as “snobby, bratty, annoying, mean” because the producers have only chosen to show the “snobby, bratty, annoying, mean” aspect of their personality.

Viewers might believe that they’re getting the real picture of what life looks like behind closed doors at the Kardashian house, but in reality they’re only getting a sliver of the “real-life” and basing their entire perception of one person off of those 30 on-screen minutes.  Given the precedent set by reality TV shows, any sort of realistic entertainment content, whether it be vlogs or YouTube videos or documentaries, is subject to questions regarding the information’s authenticity. It makes you wonder if we can really trust the things we perceive on any electronic device.

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The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School
The Reality of Reality TV