Do You Watch Reality TV?

I don’t watch Reality TV and I’m really curious as to why it’s so popular.

Do those that view these shows really believe that the “real” people that are portrayed and the events that are documented in these shows are real and not contrived? I don’t mean to insult anyone’s preferences on their television viewing habits but I’d really like to know why these shows seem to be so popular?
I recently saw a commercial for a show called Duck Dynasty. Now I have no idea what this show is about other than what I saw on the commercial with a bunch of guys with long hair and scraggly long beards talking trash to one another. What amazed me though that the commercial announced that the season premiere this year had 11.8 million viewers!
Are you a fan of this show? If so, would you mind leaving me a comment and telling me why? And please don’t say something like, “Just watch the show and you’ll understand”, but tell me what attracted you to the show in the first place.
This is just one of what seem to be dozens of shows on cable. They come back season after season so they must have a decent level of viewership. They must be making money for the producers and the channels they are broadcast on or else like any other show, they’d be in the dustbin.
With the seemingly ever growing popularity of these shows I can understand why we are seeing more and more. They’re cheap to produce because there aren’t any expensive sets, or costumes, or special effects. I doubt they have any writers that script what’s said either. So these shows are cash cows for the networks.
What I don’t understand though is why these types of shows attract so many viewers. Does it make you feel better about your own life to see the (contrived) dysfunction of others? Do you consider these kinds of shows escapism like watching a movie?
I guess maybe in the end I’m going to have to suck it up and watch one or two of them to see for myself. I actually don’t want to as I write this because TV in itself is a big time waster, and I don’t think by watching a Reality show that I’ll come away with a different opinion, but hey, I’m not so close-minded as to not give it a shot.
Before I do though, I really would like to see your comments, even recommendations as to what you think are the best shows to watch.

5 thoughts on “Do You Watch Reality TV?

  1. I have watched a few episodes of several of them, but that usually ends up being enough. I use examples from a few of them when I teach courses about mental illness. Most of the reality shows seem to involve people with very strong, pathological personalities in conflict with one another. They are a perfect tool for illustrating personality disorders, especially since I can count on most of my students having seen them.

    When I’ve had discussions with peers and students about why some of them like these shows so much, the thing that keeps coming up is that they enjoy seeing the conflict from afar and find it appealing to see others doing things they might think but would not ever do.


    • That’s really funny that you use examples from some of these shows for your classes on mental illness. But as I said in the post, I really think a lot of the “conflict” has to be contrived. No, I have no personal experience, but hearing what others say about these shows.
      Or maybe it’s that the producers, when casting, do look for unstable people. Either way, thanks for your insight.


  2. Oh yeah, I’m sure it is contrived too. I think most of the fans of the shows realize that, at least I really hope they do. Contrived or not, some really do end up providing vivid examples of personality disorders.


  3. Reality tv is a change of pace, for me, anyways. It’s different than all the other fiction-filled shows and captivates me. I usually just watch Survivor, because though it doesn’t necessarily happen every day, I know that it is up beat, and I have to actually think about what is happening as I watch it. Which is nice, rather than just mindlessly watching the screen, having everything spell out for me. I have also read an article about why reality tv shows are popular. Check it out.


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