Shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, The Bachelor and The Real Housewives have been taking the country by storm with the unscripted, outrageously unpredictable stories of ordinary people from around the country. Americans spend 33% of their free time watching television and 67% of the shows are reality television(Reality Television:a Shocking Statistic). The average American watches five hours of television a day, that means they spend three and a half hours a day watching reality television.
This shows that reality television is affecting everyone’s everyday lives. Reality television is harmful to our society because it promotes stereotypes, it leaves a lasting impression on young susceptible minds, and it is false advertising A guilty pleasure enjoyed by many reality television continuously stereotypes women, cultures and minorities. Reality television has come a long way from the first seasons of shows including Survivor, Real World and Big Brother. Now,the newer the show, the more controversial it is.
In 2009 when The Jersey Shore deupted, the infamous phrases including GTL, and guido, seemed to anger many New Jersey natives, because MTV liked to get the point across that the “reality show depicts everything they say a summer in the Garden State is about: hair gel, hook ups and the coveted, flawless tan” (Friedman). This show stereotypes Jerseyans into a group of people who only care about how they look. The show ended in 2012 but still has left behind a stereotype that will forever be engraved in New Jersey’s history. The most stereotyped group of people is black men.
Black men are shown “as either angry and violent, lazy and stupid, or sexually aggressive and dominating”(Balkin). Reality Television fails to show the diversity of black men, and they do not seem interested in a showing men who are “educated, uneducated, athletic, quiet, or politically active”(Balkin). The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Miami, New York City and Atlanta is the most controversial show on television about stereotyping women because its “name alone degrades women to the standard of subordinate homemaker”(Swantek).
The show displays the life where the wives of wealthy husbands live extravagant lives where they do not work and just spend money they did not earn. The filming of the show takes place in the homes of the housewives, this is done to confine them in the home and to perpetuate their roles as a beautiful yet incapable housewife. This presents a stereotype that is untrue to women,and because of shows like these they make children believe this is how the real world works. Reality Television is intended for adults, but more and more young children and teens are getting sucked into the lifestyle of the fabulous lives of the rich and famous.
The average age of the viewer of a reality television show is 15-30 years old. More and more reality television has faded away from showing the lives of ordinary working class citizens like in shows Undercover Boss and gone to the homes of nationally recognized people,like the Osbournes, Kardashians, and the Hiltons. Some people would steal,barder,and lie for a chance to live like them. The movie based on a true story shows exactly this. The movie the ‘Bling Ring’ which came out in 2013 is an example of how emulation of the celebrity and reality television lifestyle can cause issues in teens.
The movie follows a group of “teenagers in southern California who were responsible for the Hollywood Hills robberies, in which they robbed the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Audrina Patridge and more”(Peek). These teens idealized the party and high-fashion lifestyle that is featured on reality television, and to fuel this lifestyle they subsequently had to steal. This demonstrates the ability of this type of media to influence the values placed on materialism. Shows similar to Keeping Up With The Kardashians show the life of partying and drama that is adored by many young women.
The girls combined have over 245 million followers on instagram,with thousands of likes on their selfies, bikini and modeling photos. This shows that “people gain popularity and happiness by focusing on their appearance”(Peek). Teens want to be just like what they see on television, and they will do anything just to feel like they fit into the perfect lives they see on television, but little do they know everything they see on reality television is not always real. Though the name suggests unscripted,unedited,and unplanned. Reality television is a show no one should take seriously because of the untruthfulness it offers.
Shows that follow the lives of ordinary people are sitting on hours of video footage that they have to cram into one 1 hour episode. This is evident on shows like The Biggest Loser, the show “has 11. cameras running eight hours a day. That’s 88 hours of footage a day, seven days a week. So [we]they end up with 616 hours of video for just one week’s episode”(Crouch). This shows the untruthfulness of reality television because they can create the story line they want. Also, they now have 615 extra hours of footage they can mash together for a different episode.
Something common in reality television is frankenbiting, this is when they “take different clips and edit them together to sound like one conversation, sometimes drastically changing the meaning. ” (Crouch)So for example, in shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians they can take footage from a phone call over the summer, and not have it on the show until winter,or put someone entirely different on the other line. Shows can get away with this because people are so oblivious to the fact that this actually happens and because of how real they can make the conversation look.
Someone who knows the reality television scene first hand is Anna Klassen who “had been approached by someone [a week earlier] about the possibility of starring in a pilot for a reality TV show”(Klassen). The reality show she was asked to be a part of was a makeover show where contestants sent a tape into two life coaches asking for their help. Throughout the show they staged ridiculous scenarios about what happened when Anna was getting her makeover. For example, when they wanted to cut Ann’s hair,they just put a wing on top of her head and cut that. Ann said during this experience that “I was having a blast.
I was in it 100 percent, whatever they wanted me to pretend to do, I would. A trip to a salon to get waxed a la Miss Congeniality? No sweat, let me show you my best pained expression” (Klassen). This shows that reality television stars don’t mind being fake for the camera because they feel as if it is not them they are playing. Reality television has no truth to its name, it’s a scripted series who follow ordinary people who lie to make money. Though if they people on the show don’t care about lying should the viewer? Some may say that reality television is just harmless fun and people sign up for their lives to be seen by virtually everyone.
Also, in the 21st century people cannot be naive about going onto a reality show because of all the technology there is in the world, and people who sign up for the show are just going for a good time. This, however, is not true because harmless fun often turns into the whole world perceiving someone as a villain. For example on the latest season of the bachelor-season 20,one contestant named Jubilee is perceived as an unlovable,sarcastic, distant woman,when in fact she was a decorated sergeant during the Afghanistan war when she was just 18(Campoamor).
Also,reality television only made its mark in the U. S in the 2000s, so saying that people know what they are signing up for is inaccurate because it is still new to society and people are still learning new information about what really goes on behind the scenes everyday. Although some disagree that reality television is harmful,this shows that it doesn’t show the real meanings of people’s lives. Reality television is a fad that is dangerous to our society,for the reasons of makes people stereotype certain groups, manipulates young minds, and it is fabricated to make it interesting.
Reality television does not mean to stereotype people, but many people believe that what they see on reality shows is true, and because people think that reality shows are truthful they want to be just like them and live their perfect life,no matter the cost. Though, since reality television is not interesting without a little bit of drama,they have fabricated it so much it turned into a sitcom instead of showing the lives of normal people. Now knowing all this information the next time you watch a reality television show remember it is not much realer than any scripted show.