Controversial Impact of Reality Television Shows

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Reality television shows have a lot of impact on teenagers and housewives as they get hooked on to the shows. Teenagers of the 21st century are more inclined to having a screen in front of them. Similarly housewives tend to be addicted to watching reality shows which has become a part of their mundane routine. This leads to increase in the viewership of the channels that they are tuned into. Often some television shows are meant purely for entertainment, whereas some of them help us to hone our knowledge and skills. This research will show the comparison of how reality tv has an impact on teenagers and housewives.

The impact and effects of Reality tv shows viewing on young viewers has always been a central topic from the 1960’s. As the television programming has evolved over the years reality shows have become popular among teens and housewives. This study explores George‘s Cultivation Theory (1998), which assumes that television has the ability to influence the attitudes and perception of its viewers, and uses it as a foundation to determine if there is an association between reality shows consumption and the attitude of the target audience. As reality shows are popular, it is not only important to confirm that the target group watches such shows but to determine how connected they are with the show. This is basically to measure the connectedness, higher the connectedness higher the viewership. Reality show gives is us a clear idea of what is important, what is related to what, what exists and what is right.

In a study done by Nielsen Study (2009) states that teenagers watch more of reality show than getting engaged with new media. The goal of this paper is to study how reality tv shows influence the attitude and behaviours of teenagers and housewives. Reality tv is a form of entertainment programs which is telecasted through various television channels. The main idea of this is to provide audience with unedited, non-scripted, real, and unrehearsed programs. These shows generally have ordinary people taking part in them. 

These participants are generally put in certain situations which are often encountered by them in some point of their day to day life. Generally the producers of such shows claim that they provide actual content which is the core of the program. The participants are shown to have nervous breakdowns, get into arguments, celebrate happy moments, laugh or cry and other emotions. If such shows are meant to be based on reality then the situations should not be manipulated. The end of this kind of manipulation is called Enhance reality. Here the situation is scripted in such a way that an individual is will react in a particular manner.

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Reality shows are the USP of television channels as they generate more revenue. The concept and style in which the reality show goes about is heavily influenced by documentary style. Murray and Ouellette in their paper of 2004 talk about the six sub-genres of reality television which includes: court, lifestyle, makeover, reality sitcoms, dating and game-docs. The game-docs genre has become quite popular in India. The leading shows on Colours which is ‘Big Boss’ and ‘Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi’ follows the game-docs genre. In the show the participants are given challenging tasks, they compete with the other participants in oder to win the big cash prize and gain the fame.

Reality TV was introduced in 1948 but gained popularity in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. The concept of Reality TV is where ordinary people are captured on camera doing day to day activities. It shows us how they go ahead with their everyday lives example: facing problems, emotional trauma, competition, establishing millstones of life and so on. According to Collins Dictionary it is defines as, “Reality TV is a type of television which aims to show how ordinary people behave in everyday life, or in situations, often created by the programme makers, which are intended to be like everyday life.”

By definition, reality TV is supposed to be unscripted programming that doesn't employ actors and focuses on footage of real events or situations. Reality shows often use a host to run the show or a narrator to tell the story or they try to set the stage of events that are about to unfold. Unlike scripted shows like sitcoms, dramas and newscasts, reality TV does not rely on writers and actors, and much of the show is run by producers and a team of editors. As evolution set in reality TV has transformed from radio game show and amateur talent competition to hidden camera stunt show, dating show, documentary-style series and so on.

Now a days, reality shows that are supposed to depict real life but are merely scripted versions of real-life drama. They don’t teach their viewers any important lessons but an individual acquires the knowledge and tactics of handling different situations, if he or she comes across their life. People continue to watch there shows and contribute to the weekly TRP. The main reason for people to watch there shows are to make themselves feel better. They gain a sense of gratification that they are not the only ones who are stupid to make horrible life choices and provoke drama in their life. The viewers tend to get emotionally invested while watching the show. They feel they can relate to what is happening in the show to their own life, which gets them hooked on to the show.

Reality TV is very addictive and researchers have claimed that’s society get hooked on to these shows quickly, such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Big Boss, Fear Factor, Dance+ , even Indian Idol because they are entertaining, relatable and interactive with its audience. The key ingredient of making reality shows so addictive is what occurs on the show, producers intentionally edit the shows for the viewers’ pleasure. According to Michelle Crouch of Reader’s Digest, producers alter scenes for their show to showcase conflicts between different cast members. In addition, cast members’ behaviours’ are portrayed differently, allowing the audience to choose who’s likable and who’s not.

The two big negative aspects of reality tv may include lack of focus and change is self-esteem. On average, 28 hours of television a week is what a teen will watch over the span of a year, adding up to nearly 15,000 hours a year which is more than the amount of hours an average teen would attend school. As they exposed to so much of television time they tend to pick up on few habits. These shows can seem inspiring, uplifting, gives them hope to follow their passion and awakens the desire to achieve it at some point in life. These shows, subconsciously set up an image of “how you’re supposed to be” or “how the society wants you to be” and how if you don’t follow these ‘norms’ what will the consequences be. Everyone wants to be perfect and look perfect like the celebrities, which might lead to low self-esteem in the youth.

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