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The Reality of Television

Kristen Munoz, Contributing Writer

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Reality TV has taken television networks by storm. From earlier shows like Laguna Beach to the presently popular Kardashian’s there is seemingly a show for anyone and everyone. What has this shift from watching actors and actresses to watching the lives of everyday people generated? People cannot get enough of these shows. They suck in viewers with public relationships that are either talked up or trashed on social media. These shows create a drama both internally as well as with the audience and we hang on to every word they say.

Two of the most popular reality shows currently airing are The Bachelor and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Both of these shows have grown into full-fledged franchises with multiple spinoffs from the originals.

More recently aired was the Kardashian’s spinoff Caitlyn. This new show featuring Caitlyn Jenner formerly known as Bruce Jenner serves as an inspiration to transgender people across the world. The positive and negative implications of these shows are one outcome of this new format for television. Again, looking at the show Caitlyn this show represents progression for the transgender community.

The show I am Jazz portrays the life of Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old going through the transition of changing from a boy to a girl. These shows have broken the barrier of the classic reality show. They represent how reality television has no one category. Another benefit to these shows being aired is they create a strong platform for the transgender community.

However, they have received some backlash for misrepresentation of the transgender community, but this is seen with any television show both scripted and non-scripted. With most publicly aired accounts of real people’s lives there will be polar reactions. Everyone has their own opinions, which are often heightened through social media.

“Will you accept this rose?” the classic question from a not so classic love story. The Bachelor and Bachelorette have aired 21 seasons, with a 22nd premiering the fall of 2017. For those who are novices to the Bachelor franchise this show follows the main contestant chosen on their quest for love. They start with a group of about 30 men or women, and over a course of a couple of months, they narrow down those with whom they share the strongest connection. The ultimate episode shows the final two and a proposal to the “winner”. This show is an emotional investment for the contestants as well as the audience. Tears are shed, hearts are broken, and the drama keeps viewers glued to their screens.

With wine in hand and twitter close by, this show keeps viewers talking even after the two hour long weekly episodes.

This buzz that has been generated has given birth to The Bachelor in Paradise (a show for the rejects each season), Ben and Lauren Happily Ever After, and The Twins Happily Ever After?  Social media has also been taken over by the contestants, specifically Instagram. Companies have taken advantage of the popularity of the stars each season and often pay them to advertise their products on Instagram. The increase in followers for each of the contestants on these shows make them prime candidates to become Instagram spokespeople.

Whether it is to create a platform for equal rights or to portray an entertaining fight for one’s heart reality television has it all. This shift to watching the lives of everyday people causes us as the audience to feel a closer to the characters we are watching. The fact that they are real people saying what they want to say (as far as we know…) instead of following a script gives them a more relatable air than actors and actresses.

This also calls for a greater need to be like them because we are watching their day to day lives we think that their lifestyles are more attainable. Advertisers and businesses recognize that we want what they have and take advantage of the connection we create with reality stars.

Reality TV creates a new market for not only advertising but for stars to rise as well. The stars set the trends and we follow in hopes of achieving their status. The spinoffs will keep spinning and the franchises will continue to pave the way for reality TV to become the main source of television entertainment. Will shows like The Bachelor and The Kardashian’s prevail or will we as the audience change the direction of the entertainment industry once again?

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The Reality of Television