Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Survivor, X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing…the list of smash hit reality TV shows goes on and on. Since the turn of the millennium we’ve been head over heels in love with reality TV. But just what exactly is it about reality TV that we love so much?
One of the main things we love about reality shows is that it gives us something to have a good natter with our friends about. We’ve all got our opinions and our favourites, so it can make for some fun, lively banter. And one of the best things about it is that we get to gossip guilt free. We don’t really know the people on the screen and our chatter isn’t going to get back to them, hurt their feelings or get us in trouble.
All the lovely internet technology around us just makes the gossiping experience even better. We can go on forums to chat with other reality TV addicts; we can share our thoughts on Facebook and Twitter; or even use things like iPhone group text apps to chat with our friends while the shows are on.
Reality TV often gets a lot of stick from people who like to think it’s beneath them. They argue that it’s crass, stupid and that it’s dumbing down TV audiences. In my opinion these arguments aren’t really accurate. While we have seen some crass and vulgar reality TV moments, we’ve also seen touching moments, inspirational moments and some amazing acts of courage, will and discipline. And yes, there have been moments of incredible stupidity, but there have also been moments of crystal clear insight and creative genius. The thing about reality TV is that it tries to show the whole range of the human condition, so you’re going to get the rough with the smooth.
I personally think that the biggest clue as to why we love reality TV is in the name; it is real. What separates it from an entertaining drama is that the outcomes really matter to the people on our screens. Doing well on a major reality TV show can transform people lives; just look at Jade Goody or even Jedward.
If we start to root for reality TV show contestants we sometimes develop an emotional investment in them similar to a sports fan supporting their favourite team. We start to care about them, we want them to win, we want them to succeed in life. It’s this emotional connection that draws us in, makes the shows feel important and really engages us. For me, that’s the main reason we love our reality shows.
Why do you love reality TV shows? What are your favourite reality TV moments? Who are your favourite reality TV stars? Let us know in the comments section below.