How Real is Reality TV?

Is it just me or do also have the sensation that Reality TV is ever less based on reality?  I remember the first Big Brother which was little more than a camera on the wall recording people living in a house.  Today´s shows are much slicker, and much more “directed”.   Maybe it has not gotten to the point of professional actors and a rigid script to follow, but Increasingly I see a sense that shows and scenes are planned out before hand and scenes are acted or reenacted.   The scenes may contain improvisation, but everything else has been set up to guide the show along.  And the members of the show are increasingly participating in the act, knowing that directing the action will help the show´s ratings and boost their own limited fame.

For instance the cast of Jersey Shore must have realized that if they wanted to maintain their 15 minutes of fame, the show better deliver on the goods with lots of drama, fights and scandalous behavior.  If such was not sufficiently forthcoming it could always be nudged along.

The show about Gene Simmons from Kiss feels even more scripted with lots of cute tidy story lines.  I recently saw a “reality” show about how two mothers had work together to plan a wedding.  Of course the two mothers were comically polar opposites, but after fighting each other tooth and nail, they suddenly compromised at the end and the wedding went off without a hitch, and everyone had a big love fest before the credits rolled.  The whole episode seemed far too exaggerated and unreal to be real.  Yes, there was a wedding with real people, but most of the conflict drama was contrived and exaggerated, and then suddenly resolved to provide a tidy climax and finally resolution.

The most unrealistic “reality show” is Duck Dynasty.  While most reality shows now are at least based mostly on real people (who increasingly follow a planned plot) Duck Dynasty has all the looks of a show scripted from beginning to end.  These are not real people improvising in artificial situations, but fictional character following a fictional script.  The whole show appears to be about as real as the Easter Bunny.  The whole thing looks like a put on with its absurd situations and characters that are not believable.  It may be perfectly entertaining but it is not a reality show.

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