Reality shows share a common trait: they are easy to digest. The audience is well aware of the fact that there is actually no conflict (save when it comes to the prize), and that most of the participants are playing roles. Now that I think of it, the term ‘reality show’ is misleading…
They gained popularity because they have literally nothing to offer, apart from etertainment. That’s their sole purpose. And, to be honest, I can understand and respect that. I am not a fan, I tried to watch a few and just couldn’t stand them. But, that’s not because I think I am smarter than the average viewer, or because I solely watch things that count as ‘deep’, ‘educational’, or ‘food for thought’. It’s just not my cup of coffee (I respect my title, I can paraphrase -plus, I don’t enjoy tea).
You and I, the people who don’t enjoy those shows, are in no position to judge and frown upon those who do. Tell me, in all honesty, does your life ALWAYS revolve around culture, art, or science? Don’t you ever relax and enjoy something ‘silly’? I know that reality shows are an amalgam of lies and product placement. But, I can see two things: the first is that every concept on TV is, in fact, part of our culture (entertainment is, in my opinion, one of the foundations of civilization in general). The second is that this form of entertainment can be enjoyed by various people, regardless of their intellectual level. It’s not unlike sports: everyone can enjoy a good football match, despite being of different social, cultural, or ethnic groups. And that leads to a very interesting point.
In the end, reality shows can function as a means to ease social interaction. Much like sports, soap operas, and everything else labelled as ‘stupid’, reality shows are an easy way to start a conversation. Just mention the most beloved/hated participant, and boom! You’ve got something to talk about. Then, you can move on to whatever you want.
And that is what makes those shows useful. Everything we’ve ever created for our amusement and pleasure, has been made with the same goal in mind: to bring us closer. From Art to trash TV, from sports to science, our entire civilization is subconsciously leading to us connecting and interacting with one another. I assume you’ve got objections, and I would be more than happy to discuss them with you. That’s part of interacting too, is it not?
Seems my time is up, folks. I will see you next time! Crap, coffee’s gone cold… well, off to make another cup!