When one turns on the television set at any given time of the day to see what is available to watch will find a certain type of show is prominent. Of course during the daytime one will have tons of soap operas, court TV shows and shows about animal heroes and more to pick from. The one common theme one will find is that the majority of viewing is reality-based television. We must be fascinated with this form of television or why would it be so prominent on the viewing schedule? What is it we are seeking to get from filling our TV viewing time with these kinds of shows? Why are these shows in such demand?
This short essay therefore looks at the varying reasons why Americans watch so much TV reality shows. But at first, there shall be a cursory look at the meaning of TV reality show. There are varying views on what reality TV truly is. There are some that include the news and special reports as part of the genre and others are purist and say it only includes those shows that are unscripted. Reality TV also usually refers to shows that have been produced since the year 2000 (Wikipedia, 2007). For the purpose of this essay however, TV reality shows are unscripted shows that are loosely or strongly based on day-to-day life.
It must as a matter of fact be noted that the show most Americans are familiar with are the celebrity reality shows. This is probably due to the fact that the characters are familiar, we have a natural curiosity about whom they truly are these shows are quite popular. A very good example of this kind of show is Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. The show’s premise revolves around a multi-generational family living under one roof in Atlanta. The show premiered on June 6, 2007 on the TBS television network.
This genre of entertainment has thus become a very important part of the American culture so much, that a couple of reality shows are proudly using the continent’s name as a qualified title. Examples are America’s Next Top Model, and American Idol. Reality television has become more than just entertainment for Americans; it is now a way of life. There are quite a few aspects to reality television; there are the psychological, social, and the obvious entertainment aspects.
In a statistical survey, Forty-five percent of Americans watch reality TV, but reasons for watching differ dramatically across age and gender divides. Of those, 27 percent consider themselves die-hard fans, watching as many episodes as possible, according to a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,008 people conducted exclusively for American Demographics by Edison, N.J.-based Bruskin Research. In fact, 37 percent of all Americans prefer to watch real people on television rather than scripted characters. As stated above, there are several reasons for watching these reality shows by Americans.
According to a survey, 43 percent of 18- to 34-year-old viewers say they tune in because they like to see conflict break out among the contestants, compared with 29 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds. The older crowd, on the other hand, is more intrigued than younger viewers with following the contestants’ strategies (41 percent versus 36 percent). Men are more than three times as likely as women to tune in to see physically attractive contestants (31 percent versus 9 percent), while women are more likely than men to tune in because they like guessing the outcomes (72 percent versus 65 percent). Also, Of the 18- to 54-year-old reality TV viewers, only 19 percent cite the physical attractiveness of the contestants as a main reason they watch the programs.
1. Perry, T. (Producer). (2007). House of Payne [Television series]. TBS.
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