Reality TV is my guilty pleasure. While other students are binging seasons of “Stranger Things” or “Riverdale,” I can be found rewatching episodes of “Dance Moms” or catching up with the latest drama on “The Bachelorette.”
Many criticize reality TV for being the trashiest form of entertainment. It’s true that shows such as “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which shows the extravagant life of the Kardashian family, give viewers a false idea of reality and pass off a lot of bad behavior as socially acceptable. Almost all reality shows are heavily produced, with scripted drama that does not accurately reflect the reality of the situation.
Not only that, but reality TV has also created a genre of celebrities that are famous for no good reason. The Kardashians are a prime example of individuals who have garnered millions of followers on Instagram or Twitter, just for being on television. This creates a culture that awards glory based not on merit or achievements, but on appearance and money.
Despite the problematic values that some shows perpetuate, I still watch them for the excitement of rooting for my favorite contestant or hoping to see a show’s bullies get what they deserve. Though many reality shows are overproduced, the purpose of these shows is not to educate, but to entertain. As long as viewers watch with a grain of salt and do not take every scene as reality, it makes little difference whether a fight between two stars actually happened or was set up by the producers. If the stars involved have consented to being filmed and portrayed in a certain light, then there is nothing wrong with giving people the drama that they want to see.
And not all reality shows are created for drama– many have a purpose beyond showcasing petty fights and lavish lifestyles. Shows such as “The Amazing Race” showcase teams completing different tasks around the world. These shows educate audiences on global culture and allow them to learn about countries and cities that they may have never known existed. Other shows such as “I am Jazz,” which follows the life of transgender teenager and social activist Jazz Jennings, showcase diverse stories and experiences of underrepresented groups, hopefully allowing audiences to become more inclusive and open minded.
Reality competition shows such as “The Voice” or “So You Think You Can Dance” give everyday people the opportunity to showcase their talents and rise to fame. These shows can provide hope and inspiration to regular people to pursue their dreams. In a world where it is difficult to break into the entertainment industry, it is uplifting to witness success stories that demonstrate how hard work and talent can be rewarded.
Ultimately, even though reality TV is not the most profound form of entertainment, it can be an enjoyable way to bring fan bases together and give audiences a broader perspective on life.