What’s the appeal of Reality TV?

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For me, reality television doesn’t appeal to me. Well, I say that and have recently started watching Love Island. Not because I want to of course, but because I’m truly fascinated as to why people enjoy it. But, to be fair, I’ve watched a few episodes and fully understand the appeal. The notion that we slump ourselves in front of our TV for hours on end is no more highlighted than with reality television.

But what is it about reality TV that’s so appealing? Something must be done right, there must be some value or content to these shows to make them actually viewable. So to find out, I watched Love IslandBig Brother and a couple of other shows also. This article is a presentation of my findings, and to be fair, reality shows appeal to the masses for these reasons.

They don’t make you think

What’s worse than coming home from a long day at work, only to have your mind engaged by an episode of Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013). Disgusting! I don’t want to learn or be engaged, I just want to watch eight strangers slag each other off through the lens of a hidden camera.

Still, that does sound rather appealing to be fair. Some shows can be too taxing for the mind and you need to be in the right mood to view such a show. Your brain needs to be at full working capacity if you plan on watching Inception (2010). Not so much if you’re watching Love Island though, a glossy reality show that is borderline psychotic to say the least. In it, contestants pretty much have to partner up with other contestants in the hopes of having someone accompany them through their pitiful existence.

A true shame really, you’re watching people open up romantically for the pleasure of your own life. Bit weird if you ask me, but there’s something oddly satisfying about watching it. That’s probably why so many enjoy it though. The chance to see someone cry through streaks of makeup is appealing, and takes you out of your own mistakes in life.

A reliance on stereotypes

Shows like this don’t open your mind and they rely on the stereotypes planted inside your brain by other television shows. The way reality shows like Love Island are edited gives off an impression that will stick with the viewer. A slick editing style can make you hate in a variety of ways. For example on Love Island I found almost every contestant to be a dim witted pleb that should have no place on television.

Still here we are, they’ve ticked the box to say they’re mental enough to take part in a show like this. That means the show can pretty much pick and choose who they think should be presented in which way. The way a television show, especially a “reality” show is edited can change your perception of the people involved ten fold. Someone on Big Brother may be perceived to be a genuine dick head, but in reality could just be an ordinary bloke.

Five minutes of fame

Look at these glossy twats, in two years time you wont remember their faces or names (Love Island – 2017 – CC. ITV)

Don’t get me wrong, the people that go on “reality” shows are genuine fools. It’s borderline torture if you think about it, those poor souls don’t know any better. For all they know they just have to walk around a house. Winking at anything that moves in the hopes that they’ll end up increasing the ratings without knowing.

Probably the most memorable person to go onto any reality show is Jade Goody. That’s only because of the tragic story behind it. After vilifying the public in Big Brother with some racist comments, it was announced live on television that she had cervical cancer. It was announced on the Indian version of Big BrotherBigg Boss. From then on she sold her life to the press. All to make sure her family were surviving in the long run. An oddly, yet noble sacrifice made possible by reality television.

Still, it didn’t stop the press from vilifying everyone else that appears on reality shows. One step out of line and The Sun is going to be heckling everyone they know. That’s the sacrifice people pay though, isn’t it? For their five minutes of fame they sacrifice their right to privacy. Well, for about a week or so, then they’re just another member of the public. No better than the rest of the snivelling buggers that live next door to you right now.

Conclusion

Love IslandBig BrotherGeordie Shore and The Only Way is Essex are shows that exist. You can’t say anything constructive about them yet at the same time will struggle to criticise them. They are a void of television. A black hole of talentless members of the public that want two seconds in the spotlight. It’s their platform, and reality TV is a way for us to mock those shit eating, grin faced tool bags.

There’s a certain likeability about these literal monkeys, guffawing every time they see a bum or so much of a stroke of banter. The public love these people because it gives them someone to vilify. It’s ingenious if you think about it. We can all come together as a collective public, look at the people on our television, and be so happy we aren’t them. Just take one look at the genuine moron on The Only Way is Essex. They’re genuinely under the impression that their lives are not fabricated for our entertainment.

Reality TV is pretty much like going to the zoo. As long as you watch through the looking glass then you’re safe from exposure. Don’t climb into the pen though. If you do then there’s no way out and you’re as bad as the elephants. Wow, that analogy broke down didn’t it? Just stay away from reality TV unless you want to laugh at people.


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Ewan Gleadow
I've been writing for various different places for roughly four or five years now. Currently focusing my writing on film reviews, politics and occasional game reviews. Hopefully you enjoy my work, be sure to contact me if you have any criticisms or praise.

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