When Will Reality TVs Start Focusing On “Real” Issues?

Are you the type that likes to binge-watch their favorite series on weekends? Or, do you belong to the category that prefers to unwind with copious doses of “reality” shows? Well, if you are a member of the second group, you’re going to be pretty unhappy with this article because here we’ll not only spill the truth about reality shows but also highlight the negative effects of watching them. 

via Wall Street Journal

The Truth Is Hard To Digest

Whether you like it or not, the truth of the matter is, there is hardly anything “real” about the so-called “reality” TV. The quality of these shows and how they affect viewers’ psyche has been a topic of debate for long. While they were initially expected to project content that is wholesome and give an undiluted view of real life, eventually, they ended up delivering cheap gags, poor content, and manipulative editing. Yes, maybe there’s no script, but there surely are writers who come up with plot lines, often to create ‘sob stories’ centered around the participants.

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Come to think of it, such reality shows focus on difficult moments that the participants have been through, the obstacles they have overcome, their experiences with bullying and so on. More often than not, the narrations of such incidents end with a breakdown. Doesn’t it all seem too made up when there’s too much emphasis on sob stories? Also, not known to many, these reality shows twist and tweak footage to cook up conflicts and mold a story. It might also come as a shock that often participants are required to redo things so that all the “right” angles can be captured on camera.

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A Source Of Mental Illness And More

What is even more alarming is that reality TV has got a major role to play in fuelling body anxieties amongst young minds. According to the Mental Health Foundation as well as other researches done by relevant bodies, almost one in four individuals, between the age range of 18 and 24 years, admitted that reality television makes them conscious about their appearance. More than one-third of viewers have suffered anxiety and depression due to this. This is rooted in the fact that these days reality TV programs only cast people with “ideal” faces and bodies that end up leaving young, vulnerable minds feeling helpless. And, we are pretty sure that there have been instances when even the biggest addicts of reality shows have this lurking feeling that all that drama was staged, the backstories were amplified, and the experiences narrated by the participants were largely scripted. For example, America’s Got Talent, one of the most popular reality shows, has been accused of manipulating what they show to the fans and how they show it. Allegedly, the show altered how contestants are viewed. Moreover, it is often not the judges’ votes that decide who stays on and who leaves.

via Metro

Shows That Are Far From Reality

Besides misleading editing, creation of storylines ahead of time, staging/re-staging of scenes for the cameras, such shows also are accused of humiliating or exploiting participants, making celebrities out of people with average talent, glamorizing vulgarity, materialism, and so on. Shows such as Big Brother and Survivor, which are competition-based programs, have had producers designing the shows’ format and controlling the day-to-day activities and the environment, thus leading to the portrayal of a completely fabricated world where the competition plays out. The participants are specifically selected by producers who then go on to design scenarios, challenges, events, and settings, to project certain conflicts and behavior, all with the end purpose of pushing their TRPs. Likewise, some shows such as Survivor had producers asking the participants to only wear “camera-friendly colors”, and also to not repeat their clothing, even in terms of the same color or style. Now isn’t that going too far away from “reality”? What’s more, the second season of Hell’s Kitchen had viewers speculating that the “customers” who were shown to eat meals prepared by the participants were paid actors!

via Atlanta Magazine

The need of the hour is, to discourage viewers from getting used to this genre, which will usher in more such shows. Or, as an alternative, we can only hope that reality TV finally starts focusing on real issues without resorting to crying, swearing, arguments, violence, and other such episodes to generate excitement. Especially when it comes to children watching such shows, parents/caregivers should exert enough caution so as not to let their impressionable minds be swayed by how a distorted ‘slice of life’ is presented through these programs.

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