New age American culture; Reality shows


Whether you’re watching MTV, BET, or a main broadcast network, nearly every channel is home to reality television.

Fist-pumping topless college students, singers and dancers competing for millions, survivors gambling, outwitting their last chance at luck, and of course our latest favorite women dashing bottles across the room while men wrestle with their machismo egos.

Long behold Reality TV

Reality television are programs that presents unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents of actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded.

Many reality TV shows now do not have a prize awarded at the end, the prize is now 15 minutes of fame for those “ordinary people,” and although it is said to be unscripted, many believe for some scenes to be scripted that way providing your audience with more drama or “what the hell” moments.

In reality TV shows, the role of these ordinary people is to see what their reactions in certain scenarios are, and how they face given situations. Thus, this is why it is not really unscripted because with these scenarios it gives the audience a chance to connect with the show’s stars allowing them to see them as real and normal people who are representing them.

Especially, when the shows take place at the viewer’s hometown. Many viewers connect with certain places that are shown, and feel as if they where there themselves.

According to the American Time Use survey, in 2012 the average American spent 4.8 hours daily in front of the TV, which accounts for about 50 percent of total leisure time activities. Viewers now receive television and instantly gain access to aide variety of shows to choose from. While some cheer for their favorite celebrity on Dancing With The Stars or cry of joy with watching Say Yes to The Dress, others make fun of the cast of The Jersey Shore for their excessive use of hairspray and bronzer. Although these shows target different audience groups and vary in concept, they all share the genre of so-called realty TV.


First introduced in the 1970s, reality TV did not become successful until MTV launched The Real World in 1992, which achieved widespread popularity. Today, realities TV show air during prime time and are fully immersed within U.S. television culture. This authenticity appeals to the consumer and makes this genre so successful. However, the more popular and successful reality TV becomes, the greater the amount of criticism and rejection it receives.

Psychologist and author Dr. Jim Taylor denies the authenticity of reality TV and claims that it manipulates the viewer. Condemning reality TV for worst values and qualities in people and disguises them all as entertainers.

Reality TV shows serve as case studies discussing specific problematic issues such as teen pregnancy, obesity, or alcohol abuse. This spreads awareness of such topics and can lead to discussion among consumers. Consequently, criticism of reality TV undermines the genre’s real educational value to the audience

 The Influence of Reality Television on Society, Culture, & Growth

over the past 50 years has become more than a phenomenon; it is now one of America’s primary sources of entertainment. Due to its popularity and inexpensive production value, studios have a deep desire to maintain and create new reality shows.

In 2001, reality shows of all kinds accounted for 20 percent of TV’s prime-time schedule and today they account for about 40 percent. They were also a key factor in Americans’ migration from network television to cable, where 90 percent of reality TV is seen. Not only has society become obsessed with the diverse themes of these shows, but completely invested in these “real” people. “The absolute volume of reality entertainment has fueled a demand for untrained talent.

That’s your neighbor on an episode of MTV’s True Life; that’s a local bar-band singer winning American Idol; that’s your landlord getting fired by Donald Trump on The Apprentice. The obsession of reality television has severely influenced our society, culture, and individual growth as human beings because it is portraying reality in false and mindless light. When people want to relax or have some personal time to spare, they are looking to television to fulfill their need of entertainment. On broadcast television, 15 of the top 20 highest-rated programs among that younger adult group were reality or unscripted shows.

This reflects a lot on who we are as an American culture and what we enjoy to consume. Reality shows continue to dominate, becoming the main source of entertainment of televisions. Whether it is from exposing your talents and skills, to plainly degrading yourself, it is safe to say that the demand will continue to increase because we are constantly seeing every day Joe’s become overnight celebrities.