Reality shows taking over one network at a time
October 27, 2011
Filed under Opinion
After popular television shows such as “Sex and the City,” “Friends,” and” Everybody Loves Raymond” wrapped up their last seasons, reality shows replaced them as the comfort people sought, making them an instant hit in many homes.
New reality shows are premiering throughout the rest of this year on channels such as TNT and AMC, and it seems like they are changing the way television networks conduct business.
Reality shows have been around for many years—longer than some of us can imagine, and we have over the past five years seen the evidence that reality shows are becoming more popular by the day.
They are so popular that they often outpace scripted television.
The term ‘reality show’ recalls titles like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Dancing With The Stars,” “Basketball Wives,” “Jersey Shore,” and one of America’s most-watched shows, ”American Idol,” plus scores of other reality shows crowding the airways every day.
They are all favorites amongst the public, and if an addiction to reality shows were to occur, then one would be safely set for hours of consumption of a variety of topical shows.
A.J. Adelman, a communications professor at Santa Monica College, believes reality shows have really developed over the past 10 years, and with the launch of “Survivor” and “American Idol,” reality shows really have become a force.
What make these realities shows so popular?
The answer is pretty simple and it’s baked in the name.
The fact that it’s based on the life of regular people and scenarios and is not scripted is what sells the shows so well.
The majority of viewers can relate to many of these shows, and that alone can hook any viewer.
“The general public seems to worship celebrities, and therefore watching their reality shows is like a window into their lives. They really feel they know the celebrity through viewing their show,” Adelman said.
Reality shows have gained their popularity because they are far less predictable than scripted, plot driven shows.
One can watch an episode of “Sex and the City” and know that Carrie and Mr. Big will get back together by the end of the week, but reality shows are not scripted, their drama and romance can go in any direction, depending on the mood of the people involved.
Producing a reality television show is also far less costly than a conventional show, and perhaps that is why many networks have hopped on the bandwagon.
Of course, some reality stars can turn themselves into a brand like Kim Kardashian, or Snooki from “Jersey Shore,” and demand ever more money for future seasons.
By turning themselves into a brand, reality stars see steady money coming in from left and right, and quickly become a household name.
SMC student Karoline Maxwell’s favorite reality show is “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”
“I really love all the spin-offs, too. You get so caught up—and of course I love watching Rob Kardashian. He is so cute,” said Maxwell. “Kim Kardashian is really popular now, and I believe her wedding special they showed a couple of weeks ago on E! had over 10 million viewers.”
Reality shows are steadily taking over television networks, and aren’t consumed with too much morality or conflict, since they need only to serve up the “reality” of their content.
“The recent writers’ strike shut down scripted shows; some were cancelled and others put on scheduled reruns as they weren’t able to shoot any more episodes.
Reality writers were exempt from the strike, and therefore many of the networks rushed into producing additional reality shows to fill the void with new content,” said Adelman.
By simple virtue that there are so many of them, different shows will carry different audiences. MTV’s reality division targets a younger audience, whereas shows on CBS, ABC and NBC seek a somewhat more mature one.
It’s safe to say that reality shows are here to stay and will gain in popularity as time goes on, since people tend to enjoy watching the “reality” of a show more than a scripted show.