Why am I obsessed with reality tv?

Photo by Victoria Heath via Unsplash

The reality tv genre might be the most detested yet the most-watched genre in recent television history. There is something about it that keeps the audience coming back to it. Perhaps, the wide range of shows it has to offer, whether you want to watch extremely privileged people walking around their houses, or a good dance competition, you’ve got it all! But what exactly is it, that keeps me and most of us hooked to these shows despite knowing many of these are scripted.

Experts have researched the audience’s fascination with reality tv for decades now. According to their research, our obsession with reality tv stems from “our desire to fantasize about the prospect of easily acquired fame”. Watching seemingly regular people performing everyday mundane tasks like ourselves gives us the idea that we can be famous too because we do all the same things. I mean, getting to do everyday chores in couture? I’m all for it! 

The social comparison theory brings another dimension to the debate. Perhaps, we watch reality tv shows because it makes us feel better about ourselves. It goes without saying that there has to be more than once that we have felt lucky to not have people in our lives who start drama for the sake of it. At times, I’ve even felt smarter after seeing reality stars make a complete fool of themselves in situations that could be easily avoided. 

For me, reality television is a major source of entertainment. It provides me with an escape from my daily routine.

For me, reality television is a major source of entertainment. It provides me with an escape from my daily routine. However, oftentimes this entertainment or contentment can be short-lived. Reality television can go very wrong, very quickly. Viewers often end-up comparing themselves and their lifestyles with the people on their television or laptop screens. Although, this can happen with regular television shows as well. It, however, becomes more likely with reality television because there is a sense of intimacy. It’s like watching your friend’s Snapchat or Instagram stories. Reality tv is increasingly depicted in such a manner that it recreates the detached connection we have with some of our friends. This then naturally impacts the way we view television and can explain why we are “obsessed” with reality tv. 

Reality shows can have a different impact on different people. Some may see it as a source of enjoyment. Others may fall deeper into the lows of their lives. Either way, it is important to keep in perspective that most of these shows are scripted and projected for entertainment. No one has perfect lives and you watch these shows to make yourself feel good if you do not feel a sense of contentment. You must switch to something else.

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