The reality behind reality television programs

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The reality behind reality television programs

Reagan B. '21, Writer

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Reality television has become more and more popular as the years have gone by attracting viewers for multiple reasons. These reasons include wanting to join in conversation with friends about the show instead of being left out, the love and desire to watch drama unfold and the hope of becoming a celebrity like the people on these shows.

“People watch these because it is part of the culture. We do not see the stars as people, just as characters. These characters are affected by the single story of a type of person, like how rich people are always seen as snotty because they are promoting characters, not people,”  Advanced Placement English Language teacher Erin Williams said.

According to Psychology Today, reality television programs mostly attract large audiences because people enjoy living vicariously through the people on the show. When viewers watch reality programs, they see other people just like them getting filmed and paid for simply living out their lives.

“I think people enjoy watching other people live their lives because it is fun to comment on the things they do and judge them when they do not agree with what they say,” Vera Q. ‘21 said.

Seeing former ordinary people become famous and oftentimes wealthy by broadcasting their lives on television for millions to see can cause viewers to wonder what is stopping them from becoming television famous. This can also make viewers think they are similar to the people on the show, and they can begin to feel as if they relate and connect with them because of their shared ordinary lifestyles. Through these imagined connections, the people who watch these shows can start to believe they understand and know everything about the stars, even when they have never even come close to meeting them, according to Psychology Today.

“By watching reality television programs, people watching have the chance to relate to the stars of these shows. Some viewers can even go farther than just relating to the stars, they can sometimes feel like they are living the same life as them when in reality they live a life so drastically different, and they just use these shows as an escape from the problems in their own lives.” Vera Q. ‘21 said.

Due to the common thought people have where they truly know the stars personally, viewers often think they have the right to spread assumptions about the stars of the programs they watch and state those assumptions as facts.

“These shows definitely display a lot about who the people are, but the producers can make the stars out to be anyone they want to. Because of this, I think viewers can make assumptions about the stars of the show based on the personality displayed on screen, even when that might not be who they actually are,” Mackenzie B. ‘21 said.

These “facts” have the potential to ruin careers and have destroyed relationships. One example of a relationship ruined by false information spread is in the relationship between former members of the “Bachelor in Paradise” cast, Jordan Kimball and Jenna Cooper. In this situation, a man who watched the show wrote an email to a blogger saying he and Jenna were dating. Around the same time Cooper and Kimball’s engagement was aired on the show, this man stepped forward and said they were together He released screenshots of what people thought were his and Cooper’s text messages where Cooper said she did not care about Kimball and did not love him. After everything came out, Kimball and Cooper broke off their engagement, but since she loved him, Cooper was determined to prove to Kimball she did not cheat on him. Although they never ended up getting back together, Cooper did have to take legal action to prove she did not cheat on Kimball. Kimball and Cooper’s relationship is just one example of a relationship destroyed by assumptions made by those who watch reality television programs.

“Assumptions at any level are dangerous because it devalues getting to know someone below surface level and can make us forget the value of sitting down to talk to someone,” Williams said.
Overall, many Americans watch reality television programs so they can participate in conversations without being left out, to get in on the drama and because it is just part of American the culture. Assumptions made by viewers regarding the television programs can be damaging to reputations and can destroy relationships. Making assumptions about the stars of these shows has the ability to devalue genuine conversation because viewers think they know the stars without actually getting to know them on a personal level.