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Reality T.V. is it real?


By Syeda Khan

When you turn on the T.V., do you notice how many reality shows there are? From the ever so popular Keeping up with the Kardashians, to the Jersey Shore and of course The Bachelor; reality TV shows are very popular! But do you ever wonder whether or not the show is actually a reality show or if it is just a regular show that has been scripted by producers?

I set myself on a quest to find the answer in no other place than the internet. What I came across was quite surprising.

According to msnbc.com, reality TV has a skill full format in where real people are put into unreal situations in order to create a story. Fear Factor is a prime example of this, where normal people are asked to do crazy things for money. Once these people push themselves to the extremes, it has been said that these kinds of situations are originated by the producers. But, what makes it so interesting is that you don’t know how the person will react to the given situation that they are in. I’m sure many people in America would be interested in watching a person on Fear Factor eat a cockroach.

That’s why according to director and producer J. Rupert Thompson, reality TV shows are such a big hit. However, Hollywood Reporter Ray Richmond believes that reality TV shows should not be called reality but rather “partially scripted television”. Richmond says that in certain shows such as The Real World, though the show is not fully scripted, there is some interference with the producers to stir up the show to create more drama.

Reality shows also shoot a lot more footage than what is seen during the 30-60 minutes programming, which gives editors a chance to cut certain footage in order to tell a story. Editors and producers have learned to become storytellers by altering footage, changing up series of events and the context of the story, in order to create a story that is much different than what a person saw on the show.

Who knew that we can cut up, edit, delete, and enhance our life story like that. That’s some “reality” they’ve got going there!

And yet, with all this information made public, people still find pleasure in watching these so-called representations of reality. According to Nielsen ratings, many reality TV shows are in the top ten of the list, like Dancing with The Stars and American Idol; despite everything that is going on behind the actual shows, people are clearly in love with reality TV. In fact, Entertainment Weekly states that reality TV shows remain more popular than ever and on top of that a lot of scripted television is just not as entertaining as reality television. Reality TV doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

Next time you’re watching a “reality” TV show, try to see how much of the show you’re watching is actually real.