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Reality T.V. – Taking Over?

Courtesy watch-jersey-shore-online.info

(Courtesy of watch-jersey-shore-online.info)


Reality television has seemingly become the new craze in programming among networks within the last decade. Especially within the last few years, reality shows seem to have completely taken over our television sets. Why is this new fad of TV so irresistible to viewers? It is the raw drama of these ordinary people “just like you and me” being publicly humiliated, embarrassed, while at the same time being drowned in temptation and drama right in front of our eyes?

The key factor in its success is the unscripted madness that is actually occurring in these cast members lives; regardless of who they believe they are, we as viewers are able to establish a specific character for each person. These people cannot walk off set and escape their character; they now represent the image viewers have assigned to them. For instance the MTV hit series “Jersey Shore” has become the highest viewer rated show in MTV’s history, HISTORY! After the first season, viewers had already created perceptions of each person on the show, which have stuck with them throughout their unintended fame.

Along with the popularity among viewers reality television brings, it also sits comfortably with networks. Where a dramatic series could cost a network up to $2 million per hour to produce, a reality program costs on average $400,000 per hour. With reality show ratings shooting through the roof, networks want in on this inexpensive, yet successful, venture. The numbers don’t lie, this new generation of television does not seem to be slowing down, if anything, we should expect more endeavors in reality-based, or even contestant/competition-based, programming. All in all, reality television (if it hasn’t already), will soon enough consume most of our television programming! It seems to in fact, have taken over.

Gemma Santamaria can be reached at gsantama@student.umass.edu.

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