Unnecessary. Pathetic. Boring.
Those are just some words that are usually associated with reality TV. But I bet you never thought reality TV could be associated to any positive words.
Inspirational. Educational. Insightful.
For many years reality TV has gain a negative connotation towards it, due to people’s lack of understanding of the meaning and impact reality TV has had on our society.
“While many people think that reality TV is nothing more than a series of freak shows, some serve the greater good. A good deal of what is on TV can be very useful to the viewer”
Although reality TV has such a negative stigma, a 2011 American study shows that 15.5% of people watch and engage in reality TV and it is slowly increasing as time goes on.
I myself do not like to brag that I watch reality TV but the truth of the matter is that I do and I couldn’t for the life of me explain why I enjoy it so much. However, after watching Andy Dehnart’s TED Talk on the value of reality TV, it got me thinking about the social impact it has had on the changing issues that we have come to accept in this day and age.
Dehnart explains that reality TV helps build relationships and experiences with people you have not met and wouldn’t have met if you were not watching them on a television screen. This bond made to people who we wouldn’t normally meet are the people who allows to understand and embrace a different culture and side to society that we would possibly be sheltered to.
A big issue that reality TV has helped over come and created awareness for, is for the LGBT community. It all started with a reality documentary ‘An American Family’ (1973), which followed the Loud family around with their daily activities. This show had its debut with its first every openly gay character, Lance Loud. This insight into his life and struggles as a publicly gay figure on television opened the doors to some of the other openly gay reality TV stars who are helping reshape the way we view the LGBT community.
The main figure who has raised awareness for the transgender scene was retired gold medal-winning American Olympian Bruce Jenner, also known for his appearance on ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ and marriage to Kris Jenner and his two daughters Kendall and Kylie. Jenner landed his own reality TV show ‘I am Cait’ after transitioning in 2015 from Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. This show followed Caitlyn through before and after her transition as well as her personal struggles and life that came after the change.
Caitlyn Jenner, along side other stars on other reality TV show’s have opened up a more public forum for the LGBT community, creating awareness for the struggles and hardship which the community faces on a daily bases. Recently Geordie Shore star Marnie Simpson opened up about her sexuality, following fellow cast mate Nathan Henry’s reveal to the Geordie family that he was in fact gay.
Although a lot of you may not like reality TV with all its drama and unnecessary conflict, you must see what it has done to help make awareness in our society.
Even though you may not believe that they have any relevance to your life, I challenge you to watch some reality TV and see if you can form a connect with the cast members and see if you can spot the social issues they are helping to over come.
Dehnart, A 2013, ‘The Value of Relaity TV, TedTalk, online video, YouTube, 12th April, viewed 6th August 2016 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hWrRlSITKw>
Perritano, J 2016, ‘What is reality TV’s influence on culture?, How Stuff Works: Culture, viewed 6th August 2016 <http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/tv-and-culture/reality-tvs-influence-on-culture2.htm>