Examining the Economic Sense and Growing Popularity of Reality TV - Page 2
People's natural curiosity, as well as their natural urge to gossip and "spy on the neighbors," tends to make reality TV with its emphasis on interpersonal relations, an excellent fit with people's natural basic interests. Social shows like Survivor, The Bachelor or Big Brother, allow people to see other real people develop relationships, fall in love, and face conflicts from the safety and comfort of their couches. Note how the demographic emphasized by these shows can be tailor-made to fit the desired advertisers' markets.
The category of Talent tends to use people's enjoyment of making fun of others - you always see some really bad acts on American Idol or total klutzes on Dancing With the Stars or complete bozos on Hell's Kitchen - but you can also discover a truly great talent like Carrie Underwood. There is also the simple, but real, desire for people to see others doing something really well, like watching the amazing cooks on Iron Chef.
With the Criminal reality shows, they satiate the average law abiding citizen's desire to get a close up of real criminals in action, again, from the safety of their couches. Instead of actors playing criminals, viewers get to see real criminals engaging in real crimes. Most people will never see a real crime or chase scene (thankfully) but on reality TV they are treated to a host of true crimes, criminals, arrests, and even shoot-outs - and, of course, they are titillated by this!
We can see that the combination of the relatively inexpensive production of reality TV and its natural appeal to viewers' voyeurism and desire to see "real life" behaviors is the reason reality TV has grown to its dominant position today.
In our next article, we examine how reality TV has evolved from its earliest incarnations like Candid Camera and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom to modern hits like Survivor and Hell's Kitchen.