Reality TV. Is it even real?


Best reality TV shows out there today. Photo Credit: USA Today

Drama. Trainwrecks. The ultimate everyday life. Reality TV. Reality TV might be a guilty pleasure for some of you, but this article shouldn’t be. Let’s start off with a few of the most popular shows today. You’ve got The Kardashians, Dance Moms, The Real Housewives (any of them), Love Island, and more. I hope that you readers recognize at least one of the shows I listed. Don’t feel bad or guilty, own up to it. I, for one, am known to watch clips from certain reality TV shows here and there to make myself remember the good things in my life. But as we watch these shows, does it help us? Do we change our behavior and what we like based on what we see?

There are so many different types of reality shows from Top Chef to Project Runway. Reality TV is alive with drama concerning food, family, love, and even survival of the fittest. IMDB has a list of the top 50 reality shows out there like Survivor, Next Top Model, DCC (Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders), Yes to the Dress, and The Amazing Race. All of these shows have a few things in common. To start us off, they are all insanely popular and are heavily viewed. Secondly, they all have one or another dramatic climax in every episode. I’m not saying that they’re the only ones who have a climax per episode, don’t get me wrong. I love the fictional TV shows that have climaxes as well, but with reality TV it seems just a bit more exaggerated. These shows are just too addicting!

Bingham FBLA watching Dance Moms during their state comp. Photo Credit: Laura Adams

But what do these shows do for us? I believe they offer a distraction from the real world, which is ironic because we distract ourselves by watching other people’s “real world.” I am not saying that reality TV is bad or that you’re a bad person because you watch it, just that it might not be the best thing for us as people. But if it offers you an escape from a rough part of your life then by all means, whatever helps you. I stand on the edge of the line between the good and bad of reality TV, so if it works then great, but if you feel horrible watching it then find something else. I interviewed Sarah Hodnett, a senior here at Bingham, about her love of Dance Moms, one of the most iconic reality TV shows out there. She said, “I never really watched it until this past week, but I’m attached. Watching this show helps me forget about the stress that I have in my life.” She mentioned that during the state competition for her club, FBLA, Bingham managed to get seven other people form different teams to join us in watching Dance Moms. 

We are all human and we are attracted to things that guarantee a trainwreck or emotions and/or drama. It’s the reason we slow down to look at a crash on the freeway, the reason you check your ex’s social media or watch a show about other people’s lives that are heavily dramatized. I asked Amy Bird, a full time working mother of six, what she thought of reality TV. She replied, “I don’t believe it is real at all. I think all of it is a scam to get people to watch their shows. They say there is no acting but there obviously is.” Some people believe in reality TV and others don’t, and it’s okay. It’s all based on your perspective. 

Now let’s approach the finish line. Is reality TV good or bad, does it influence us, and is it worth the hype that it is given? One, everything can be good or bad depending on what you take from it, and in this case, if reality TV is something that helps you forget your problems, then great! If not, find other ways to soothe yourself. Secondly, everything we see has an influence on our lives, so yes, reality TV does as well, such as buying products used by these TV stars. Lastly, given the excitement that most shows get, the hype is worth it for some people, just not others. Overall it’s up to you to decide if reality TV is valuable in your life or not.