Consuming reality TV shows has become a constant in the lives of some and even for myself personally. Why we watch reality TV shows is often a source of debate, but it always comes down to our growing fascination and desire to fantasise about the prospect of acquired fame and our ability to somehow relate to the ‘reality’ perceived. From the ‘Bachelor’, ‘The Block’, ‘Neighbours’ or even ‘Teen Mom’, out afternoons are filled with enough drama that we can’t help but soak it all up.
So why do we feel compelled to watch these shows?
With this genre of television, the privacy barrier becomes obliterated. Because of the style of filming and the ability to reach these TV reality stars on social media it makes audiences feel as if they were their friends and that we know everything about them. The audience becomes obsessed with the actors on TV and starts to construct relationships with them and other people through social media like Instagram. In doing this it allows for the media platform to forge connections and encourage the involvement of ordinary day to day people in the lives of the extraordinary people.
The idea of taking an average citizen and turning them into someone famous, which leads to the changing of their social status is a true fantasy for some reality show junkies. An example of this idea would be the block contestants or even Masterchef contestants. In the beginning of both shows, the contestants are seen as an average day to day people. On the Block, there are a couple of people who are tradies or have some kind of building background where others are just people there to have fun and learn how to build without any previous styling or building knowledge. This is very clearly highlighted when the 2015 team contestants Whitney and Andrew, who had no previous experience before hand and were thrown into the deep end when the series started and ended up not doing as well as they had hoped.
Reality shows are compelling because they aren’t geared towards just one audience, they are attractive to different age groups, races, genders, weights and heights and even sexual preferences in our society.
Reality shows are compelling because they aren’t geared towards just one audience, they are attractive to different age groups, races, genders, weights and heights and even sexual preferences in our society. We are being bombarded by reality TV shows because they have lower production costs and have become increasingly popular over the years. Reality TV shows have also allowed for a range of topics that wouldn’t necessarily be talked about to be broadcasted to a global audience. An example of this would be the Kardashians and the transformation Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn, this change sparked the worldwide public to talk about this topic and also bring awareness to the transgendered community.
With reality television on the rise, the difference between public and private spaces will be diminished for those involved, which could definitely be seen as a negative aspect of the genre. However, it could be said that this could be celebrated by the audience and the people involved as a new form of participatory democracy.