In what ways has the genre of reality television been lost through the hybridization and diversification of programmes?
Reality TV used to be a look into the real-life happenings of people, such as their everyday lives and mundane jobs, to glimpse what others were doing with their lives that you weren’t doing with yours. Since social media wasn’t around in the 20th century, people were restricted with their knowledge of news and the private lives of others. Documentaries showing peoples’ lives and what life was like in other areas of the world was more than just entertaining – it was educational and informative. Especially during the war, news reels and interviews with people regarding their part in the war was seen as ‘real life’. Reality TV was a way in which you could look into a different kind of life than yours without leaving the safety of your own home.
As entertainment and technology evolved, reality TV too evolved – or in my opinion devolved – into the various kinds of tv we see nowadays. Cooking shows, talk-shows, survival shows, as so forth all span from the same roots which were the reality tv of the 20th century. People got bored of watching the same stuff over and over again so a whole variety of ‘reality TV shows came about to keep up the viewing numbers and entertainment factor of the shows. The further away from the origins the crazier and less ‘reality’ the TV shows become.
To keep up with the consumer’s want for entertainment and scandals, shows diverge from the traditional means of informative and educational TV to that of eliciting reactions from the audience. Shows like the Bachelor/Bachorette, Survivor, Masterchef, Love Island and so on have become more and more scripted and falsely portrayed throughout the years to keep up with the level of engagements from the audience. The more scandalous or obscene, the more viewers and therefore the more money the company will get. It isn’t about the reality of everyday life anymore, instead the narratives have been designed for the sole purpose of bringing in income and attention.
The diversification and hybridisation of Reality TV shows as disfigured the intentions of Reality TV. Reality TV is no longer about glimpsing people’s real lives and the mundane jobs they have. Rather, it has blown up into a false sense of identity, a false image of ourselves to show people the best side of ourselves or the more glamorous side of ourselves to appeal to the masses and to get views and money. It’s like social media, which can be argued to be this generation’s self-directed form of Reality TV. We show the most appealing, most scandalous, most attractive side of ourselves and our lifestyle to garner attention and praise. We hide the real side of our lives because it is simply not attractive or entertaining enough for people.