Reality Television




Types and Analysis



By:  Matt Meily, Monica McGee, Robyn McGuffin,

Brad McLaughlin, Lauren McMullen, Alfredo Medellin,

Jon Meinhold, Bill Mangano, and Kelley McCraley

(The Blue Jays)

A Brief History of Reality Television

Monica McGee

            What was the first reality television show? Survivor, The Real World, or maybe even Temptation Island you guess. The answer to all of these common assumptions is no. Reality television came about long before Survivor and The Real World; it has been around for over fifty years. The first reality show aired in 1948, long before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and was on the air until 2000. This made it not only the first reality television series, but also the longest running reality show. So do you know what it is? Maybe this will give it away, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!” That is right; Candid Camera was the first reality television show.

            Candid Camera was originated by a man named Allen Funt, and continued by Peter Funt, his son, after Allen retired. Funt thought of the show while serving in the armed forces. He started by taping complaints of servicemen and broadcasting them over the Armed Forces Radio. He later took the idea to network radio, and in 1947 had a radio show called Candid Microphone.

            In 1948, ABC cast the program on their network and kept the name Candid Microphone. However, in 1947 the show was moved to NBC, and the name was changed to Candid Camera. Over the years, Candid Camera not only aired on ABC and NBC; it also was broadcast on CBS and other syndicated channels.

            The point of the show was to put hidden cameras in unexpected places and position people in baffling situations, watching their reactions. Situations included a lady asking someone to help her because she was having car trouble, but when the people would open up her hood there wasn’t an engine. Another such situation had a bowler waiting for his bowling ball to come from the ball-return, and when it did the ball wouldn’t have the finger holes that it should. The segments always ended with the saying, “Smile; you're on Candid Camera!”

            Soon after Candid Camera, Wanted was introduced as the second reality television show. Wanted discussed crimes and criminals and included interviews with victims families as well as public authorities that worked on the crime cases. While it only lasted for one year, it inspired the hit television series, America’s Most Wanted, which aired in 1988.

            America’s Most Wanted is still on the air and his hosted by John Walsh, whose son was kidnapped and murdered. The show presents information about crimes, and reenacts the crimes. To the day, the show has helped catch over 600 criminals. Following America’s Most Wanted was a show called Cops, which is also still on the air. Cops aired in 1989 and is also a crime fighting television show.

            In 1973, An American Family debuted on PBS. This was a documentary about the Loud family from Santa Barbara, California. The loud family was taped for over 300 hours, but only 12 of those hours ever seen airtime. Produced by Craig Gilbert An American Family was watched by over 10 million viewers. The show unfolded with Bill and Pat Loud, the parents, splitting up, and Lance, their son, coming-out and saying he was gay. Unfortunately, like many reality shows today, the Loud family complained that the broadcasting of the show misinterpreted their lives.

            An American Family was where the idea for the MTV hit series The Real World came. The Real World, which aired in 1991, is still on television. It is a show where seven people from all over the country come together to live in one house. The group has a job while living in the house, and the shows are taped and aired on MTV. Along with An American Family, people often complain that The Real World doesn’t show the reality of what the people in the house are really like.

            As you can see, reality television not only existed before Survivor, it was popular as well. While it is true that reality based televising shows have flourished since Survivor, reality television has been around for a number of years; it just wasn’t the phenomenon that it has become since the premier of Survivor in 2000.


The Reality of Medicine

By: Jon Meinhold

A lot of the most popular reality shows on TV today are not terribly realistic.  Shows are often scripted or depict not so real people in unrealistic situations, really, how often are people stranded on dessert islands with the hope of winning millions of dollars and a camera crew to catch it all?  But there are a few shows here and there that depict actual reality.  A number of police shows on TV today show real officers on duty, but quite often these shows only show the most extreme circumstances of police duty.  If the viewer truly wants to see what is really going on in the world then medical reality shows offer the most realistic look at the world.

Medical reality shows span a variety of subjects and offer many different views on medicine.  One of the most popular and successful medical reality shows recently has been the Learning Channel’s Trauma: Life In The ER, which travels to various hospitals around the US and takes footage of doctors working in the ER.  This show offers viewers a very gritty and realistic view of ER surgeons operating on patients in need of serious medical care.  Not for the faint of heart, Trauma: Life In The ER can be quite graphic at times, often showing severe injuries such as compound fractures, exposed organs, and various wounds.  However graphic this show may be, it remains true to what an actual emergency room is like and pulls no punches in its depictions.  Also airing on TLC is Maternity Ward, which follows a format similar to that of Trauma’s.  This show offers, again, a very realistic look at women in the hospital, giving birth.  Maternity Ward is not all successful pregnancies and happy parents, though; it successfully mixes all aspects of the birthing process, from the heartbreak of infertility to c-sections to infant mortality and everything else in between.  With both Trauma… and Maternity Ward in their line up, The Learning Channel offers some of the best medical reality programming on television today.

Not to be out done though, the Discovery Channel recently introduced and entire channel dedicated solely to medical and health related programming called Discovery Health Channel.  This new channel offers programs like Paramedics, Kids Health Works, and Medical Diary.  Shows on this channel are often more personal, in that they focus on specific people from show to show.  Medical Diary for example is a video diary of a person dealing with a specific illness or disorder while Kids Health Works deals with kids facing serious illnesses such as juvenile AIDS patients and children with cancer.  While shows on this network are often cleaned up and more suitable for larger audiences, they still offer a realistic look into the world of medicine.

Medical reality shows have now begun to branch out into new areas, too.  No longer are they focusing just on people, but on animals as well.  Another new channel created by the Discovery channel a few years ago called Animal Planet now features several shows that revolve around healthcare in the animal world with shows Emergency Vets, which depict what happens when animals need medical attention.  Emergency Vets is an often-graphic look inside the operating rooms of veterinarians’ offices showing everything from major surgery on cats and dogs to relieving an elephant’s stomachache to the birth of farm livestock. 

Many people complain that the recent reality TV explosion has yielded a number of poorly thought out and executed shows that are not all that real, but if viewers really want to see what is really happening there are shows that will do just that.  Real people may not be represented on reality shows, but real doctors are, people just need to look a little closer.


Reality Television:  Music

By:  Brad McLaughlin

Music is one of the only languages that is understood worldwide.  No matter where you go in the world, you can find that music is present in some way shape or form.  When you combine this great force with television, you get a media phenomenon that is also popular worldwide.  Reality television that has a musical theme has been around for many years.  Even before today’s boom in reality television shows, music reality shows were there.  From the beginnings of MTV, people have been telling their musical story through the television.  All around the world, different countries and broadcasting companies have teamed up to make their own version of musical reality T.V.  From Making the Band and Bands on the Run in the United States to England’s Popstars as well as Bardot from Australia. 

The United States is the world’s leader of pop culture and communications.  So it should come as no surprise that the first music base reality television shows started in the U.S.  It probably had its roots during the early 1980s when MTV was just getting its start.  This gave these shows a home and a basis for what would happen years down the road.  The two largest musical reality shows were ABC’s “Making the Band” and VH1’s “Bands on the Run”.  Making the Band featured tryouts for the band “O-Town”.  These singers had to audition in order to make the show.  They were then followed and the program followed their success all the way until they got a real record contract with J Records.  “Bands on the Run” features a contest between four modern rock bands.  All four bands were followed around the country and their success was tracked.  This show actually featured established bands, unlike in “Making the Band” where the band was formed during the taping of the show.  This show takes a closer look at what it takes to be a successful touring band and what hardships have to be overcome.  The four bands that were featured were Soulcracker, Harlow, The Josh Dodes Band, and the winners Flickerstick. 

In England, the show that swept their nation was “Popstars”.  This show is basically the UK’s version of  “Making the Band”.  All of the members of the group had to audition to make the show.  The show started with these auditions and taped all the way through their musical journeys.  This band eventually became quite popular in England.  When they released their debut album, it was extremely successful on the charts.

Australia also has their own brand of musical reality television.  The contest was very much the same as the other two we have talked about earlier. Teens from all over the country tried out for this all girl pop group.  As with before, the cameras followed them from day one and marked their success.  This group also became very successful and sold many records.  The show was a hit on Australian television.

Reality shows are a big part of our lives today whether we like it or not.  No matter what channel you watch, chances are you will see something related to reality shows.  Music touches all of us in some way also.  So if you think about it, this is the perfect marriage between different types of media. 


The Romantic Side of Reality TV

By:  Robyn McGuffin

            Date shows have multiplied ever since the tremendous popularity of reality television took over the minds' of America.  And why not?  Everyone is looking for the their soul mate or some new ideas on what is hot and what is not in the dating scene.  There is no better way to answer these questions than to watch other people test it out, but how realistic are these shows? 

            The most successful and longest running of date shows is Blind Date and after watching it just once, it's self-explanatory why.  The set up is simple: two perfect strangers are paired based on shared "interests, hobbies, and compatible neuroses."  They are sent on a date that is completely videotaped and when the tape is aired, it is accompanied by "instant analysis" and "pop-up on-screen commentary" from the writers of the show.  In other words, the show takes on a humorous twist that could not get any more embarrassing.  The show is mainly real, but there is usually nothing compatible about the couples.  Most of the dates take place in hot spots of Hollywood and L.A.  The women look like models from a magazine and the men usually struggle a bit making for an interesting evening that either ends in disaster or in the bedroom.  The show is aired Monday-Friday at 5:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm on CITY-TV. 

            Another show that takes on the romantic genre in a different way than Blind Date is Temptation Island.  The success of this show has allowed two seasons already and will not stop there.  The title of the show speaks loudly for the basis, since there is nothing real only surreal about the dates.  The show takes four couples to one of the most beautiful islands in the world, separates them for about a month, and slaps about ten of the hottest singles in their face during this time.  The show grasps the viewers' attention, because everyone wants to see who will cheat and who will stay faithful.  The show definitely tests the players love and hormones, but it is no different than a normal person going on vacation with their friends, having a fling, and then realizing they really do have to go home, so keeping their partner around is good idea after all.  

            The dating show that seems to be the most normal, but the least talked about is A Dating Story, which is aired weekdays on TLC.  It is one show the really tries to match people up and there is no commentator poking fun at their every move.  The dates are usually very simple and end up with an exchange of phone numbers versus a late night rendezvous.  Sounds boring, but really is sweet for those sensitive people. 

            Date shows will remain popular as long as they are aired.  Once the viewers get bored with one show, it is dropped and another concept pops up.  It is one big cycle that will not end.  People live their lives through reality dating shows.  The shows really do give some good advice and ideas of things to do, but mainly what not to do.


Simple Justice

By:  Matt Meily

Reality shows that focus on legal issues are not as “real” as they would have you believe.  That is because they water down the proceedings of the legal system in order to make it interesting and exciting.  They are not real in three major categories:  civil procedure, evidence rules, and entertainment value over reality.

            First of all, what are law based reality shows?  These are shows that show the proceeding of a courtroom, through a camera’s lens.  Usually they are marketed around a judge with a certain personality.  Examples are the shows Judge Judy, Judge Mills Lane, and Judge Joe Brown.  There are several others, but they are mostly the same show.  Every show, presents a new case (or multiple cases) in which real people take part.  The people that take the parts of the plaintiff and defendant have had an actual disagreement that they cannot resolve themselves.  So, they turned to the legal system to help them.  Somewhere along the line, they agreed to have their case filmed for one of these reality shows.  In turn, they received some money.  However, they had to wave certain rights in order to be on such a show.  I shall describe this later.  The only thing that holds the show together show to show is the same judge.  Everything else changes.  Animal Court is perhaps the wackiest of these shows, because the cases all involve animals. 

            The first way that legal reality shows are not real is their breaches in standard civil procedure.  Civil procedure is defined as how a courtroom operates.  For the most part, everything is like usual.  There is a judge presiding over the case, as well as an audience.  However, there are never any lawyers representing the plaintiff or defendant.  Under the law, any one charged with a crime who wishes to be represented by a lawyer may have one.  Even if they cannot afford one, one will be appointed for them.  Since there are no attorneys, the two opposing sides must represent themselves and tell what happened in their own words.  And since most ordinary people do not possess nearly the same amount of legal knowledge that an attorney would, this makes the shows more interesting.  For the most part, one’s right to an attorney is waved and they allow their case to be presented to the public via a legal reality show.  The reasons that attorneys are not allowed is because their presence would detract from the power of the judge.  Also, the presence of attorneys would slow down the trial, making the show longer.  To keep the show fast moving (and hopefully keep their audience interested) they are not involved in these trials.

            Another breach in civil procedure is the lack of a jury.  Not every trial may become a jury trial, but ones that involve the breach of a contract, may.  Not surprisingly, large portions of these cases are breach of contract cases, where someone went against their word, written or oral.  In a jury trial, the jury, not the judge, would determine who was at fault and possibly what the penalty would be.  Once again, this would detract from the power of the judge, and since they are the power behind the show, jury trials are never used.

            Also, there is no discovery.  Discovery is when each side shows their evidence to the other side.  It gives them both sides a chance to prepare, so they do not lose the trial because they draw a blank.  However in reality shows, there is no disclosure and each side cannot prepare properly for the trial.  They can only guess as to what evidence the other side will present, and quite possibly that could cost them the trial.

            The final breach in civil procedure is that there is no cross examination, and no actual witness.  Witnesses are supposed to sit next to the judge and be questioned by their lawyer, that is if they wish to be questioned.  Then the opposing sides attorney shall ask questions and try to punch holes in their story.  However in a legal reality show, each side tells their version of what happened to the judge, not the other side.  In this case, the judge acts as the lawyer and cross-examines them.  At the end of the trial, the judge determines who was more believable, unless there was a blatant illegal action on the part of one party.

            The second problem with legal reality shows is their evidence rules. Rampant hearsay and many opinions are the biggest offenses.  Hearsay is when someone repeats something they did not say.  For example, if the president said that drugs are bad, then you cannot say that in court.  The president himself would have to appear as a witness and say it.  This does not occur in a legal reality show and could be easily abused.  Also, if a witness does happen to use hearsay, the opposing side has the option to object to it.  But, without an attorney one cannot object to hearsay.  Moreover, people’s opinions are weighed heavily in these cases.  While in most trials opinions are ignored in favor of verifiable facts. 

            The final breach of evidence rules is that confidences aren’t protected.  Supposedly, anything you say (that is assumed to be a secret), may not be told in a court unless subpoenaed.  However in legal reality shows, anything relating to the case is retold to the judge.  This is hearsay once again.

            The third and most important unreality of reality legal shows is that they are for entertainment value only.  To achieve this, they use a simplified format.  This format can also be called a sort of simple or watered down justice.  The presiding judge is schooled in law, so they do make decisions that any other “normal” court would have made.  The sentences however, are sometimes very creative.  Judge Joe Brown once had a case between a man that accused his friend of stealing from him.  Throughout the case, it became clear that the second man had stolen.  The sentence was for the victimized man to go to the thief’s house and steal something of theirs!  This kind of eye-for-an-eye decision is very entertaining, but is not at all a standard decision.

            Trials, by nature, are boring.  Most cases are about insignificant things that would never be interesting enough to make it onto a legal show.  These cases are screened out, giving the illusion that cases that go to trial are either interesting or “big stakes” trials, such as murders.  During the course of a trial, which usually takes more time than 15-30 minutes, there are numerous breaks in the trials.  Recesses are one example.  Another would be if the judge wishes to see both attorneys in his chambers.  These breaks do not appear at all in a TV trial (except if you count commercials). 

            The judges in these trials are given powers far beyond their non-televised counterparts.  They act not only as a normal judge, but gains the powers of the attorney for each side, and act as the jury.  “Judge, jury, and executioner” would be a proper phrase to describe the powers that a single individual holds in legal reality shows. 

            There is one exception to all the above “unrealities”.  CourTV is a network that shows live trials as they are.  There are not special judges that appear week to week, no omitted evidence rules, and there are attorneys.  Since this is still a network interested in ratings, they still do screen some cases before they are put on the air.  This is done to attain greater ratings.

Reality shows revolving around the legal system are not what they appear to be.  They omit certain evidence rules, civil procedure, and are more interested in entertainment than authenticity.  They omit certain portions of the system in favor of ratings.  This is not a horrible crime, but the fact remains that these shows are marketed as real, yet they are not.  They are a version of what a real trial is.  And in that version, entertainment is stressed over education of the legal system.


The Artificial Reality of Police Television Shows
By Bill Mangano
            Crime fighting is an exciting and thrilling process and with the advent of many different reality television cop shows, viewers can tune in nightly to watch the action from the point of view of an on duty police officer. Television shows that involve real crime fighting have come to attract a large audience. However, after some analysis, the overall “reality” of these shows may be overrated. 
            There are two types of reality TV police shows, the first type features live footage and the second type contains reenacted true stories. The live footage genre contains shows such as Cops, Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, LAPD, and American Bounty Hunters. The reenacted reality genre is made up of popular shows such as America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. What links all of these television shows together as a genre is they all tell true stories of crime fighting. 
            Cops, which is the most popular of all the reality TV police shows travels to many different urban areas around the United States. This show deals with every aspect of police work ranging from domestic violence to drug busts. Often during the show the police officer being filmed will sum up their thoughts of the prior event. This segment of 
the show allows the police officer to send a message to criminals everywhere that their deviant behavior will not be tolerated. LAPD is similar to Cops only the setting of the show always takes place on the streets of Los Angeles. Given that different the neighborhoods of Los Angeles differ so greatly, this show finds just as many suspenseful moments as Cops.  Real Stories of the Highway Patrol places its focus on driving related footage that usually involves high-speed chases, deaths, and arrests. Lastly, American Bounty Hunters follows the day of a bounty hunter as they search for fugitives. A characteristic that makes the program different from the other three in this genre is the fact that is does not feature direct police work, only bounty hunter footage is found on the show. One main fact that compromises the reality of these types of shows is that they are edited to tell a story. If a criminal escapes the police or if a police officer makes a mistake, it will most likely not be aired on television. Generally speaking, viewers are usually shown footage of incidences that went smoothly, and that make the police 
Officers involved look like heroes (Rolling Stone 2001). This gives viewers a false sense that police officers always catch the person they are looking for, which is simply not the case.  America’s Most Wanted was the first show to be aired on television that dealt with real crime stories. The program has lasted on television for 15 years and has led to the capturing of more than 700 fugitives (America’s Most Wanted 2002). Despite the fact that there is rarely live footage shown, the program has a strong value due to the interactive nature. The show asks viewers to keep their eyes open for the featured fugitive and makes escaping authorities a harder job for criminals everywhere.  Another show that is similar to America’s Most Wanted is Unsolved Mysteries. This program is also an interactive show that asks viewers to call in to help catch missing people. Unsolved Mysteries is responsible for 93 reunions and has solved nearly 300 cases to date (Unsolved Mysteries 2002). This genre of reality TV police shows is less misleading than shows that contain mostly live footage. Nevertheless, law enforcers are portrayed so that viewers are not informed of any mishaps that may have occurred when trying to capture a particular fugitive.
            Although reality TV police shows do give their audience a glimpse of what police work must be like, the politics and payoffs that are realism of the job are never shown (Rolling Stone 2001). All of the shows previously discussed only focus on the heroic aspect of being a policeman or policewoman. All shows that could be categorized as reality TV police shows are edited in a studio and are filmed from the perspective of the law enforcement agent, therefore making them only partially real. 

Children and Teenagers: Victims of Reality Television?

By:  Lauren McMullen

            Have children and teenagers been plotted against? Do producers and creators of reality T.V. shows target certain groups of people? I believe that this answer is yes. In one form or another reality television shows have existed for entertaining audiences, and in fact, all television shows are marketed towards a particular audience. With choices of quality or wholesome programming, one can only wonder why the industry has chosen to market children and teenage reality based television shows, which illustrate “the way things are”.   

              Children’s shows, like cartoons, are not the only programming choices for them today. Television shows, such as Disney’s Bugjuice, are geared towards a young crowd. This show takes place in a summer camp, an ideal setting for children. Camera crews follow campers around and film their everyday activities, struggles, and achievements. The show portrays “ideal camper life” with all of the fun activities that are a part of a summer camp. Swimming in the lake, hiking in the woods, and living in cabins with many girls or boys. They also show the flip side of summer camp: the politics, competition, and mean spiritedness of some children. Why is this a bad thing one might ask? Does it give children a false sense of what is real, and do viewers actually look up to these characters on this show? Well, according to Mariel Garza, staff writer for the Website CSUN, “…living vicariously through them or criticizing them relentlessly, we fall in love with them or despise them more than we ever could with fictional characters.”(CSUN quote) This is a dangerous ideal that production companies are toying with. Children should not have to “live vicariously” through others. This show in particular is very persuasive and has a large viewing audience because of the channel it airs on. Many parents think that the Disney channel is quality programming, and therefore, safe. But, can parents allow children to watch programs that give a false sense of real life?

            Teenagers are also catered to. With the beginning of MTV’s “The Real World” in 1992, “networks recognized this as a low-cost programming that is virtually strike-proof” (CSUN).  Now, there are many selections for teenagers to view. Shows on MTV and PBS are taped with a younger audience in mind. For example, MTV’s Flipped is a show that switches the roles of the two people in that particular episode. It can be parents and children, nerds and popular people, and the list goes on. This show is used to show the consequences of people’s actions. The problem with this type of show is, “non-actors in unscripted but manufactured situations with story lines” (CSUN) think that people actually live day to day like what is portrayed in this type of show. The fact of the matter is that people are taped, and not everyone acts the same way in front of a camera. It is just a way for people to get their faces on television.

 American High, another reality television show that airs on PBS, focuses on high school students during one full year of school. “The original vision of the show was to do the non-fiction version of My So-Called Life. To find a way to tell the story of what it’s like to be coming of age in America right now” (PBS). So why do teenagers want to watch on television what they experience in everyday life? I believe that these shows are so addicting because people can relate to the people on the shows. On every show, people have their favorite “character” and enjoy watching them. The format of no actors, no scripts, just life, is what draws people into the world of reality T.V.


Reality Television- Survivor and the Others

By:  Kelley McCraley

What do you think most Americans watch?  In recent surveys reality- based shows are the most watched television shows on the networks.  There are many different types of reality-based shows such as Survivor, Boot Camp, Animal Race, and Combat Missions.

Survivor is one of the highest reality-based shows on television.  Many shows have followed in Survivors footsteps, such as Boot Camp, and Amazing Race.  Survivor, which was started four years ago, consists of sixteen teammates competing for one million dollars.  Each week they have different obstacles they have to compete in order to go on.  At the end of the show each week they have a tribal meeting and vote one person off the island.  Survivor is aired on CBS. 

This show, which started four years ago, has become a spin off of many other survivor shows, such as Boot Camp and Animal Race.  Animal Race, which has eleven teams with two persons on each team, competes.  This show gives them so much money they are allowed to spend and at the end the team still standing gets the winning prize.  Animal Race is being aired on CBS, with its fellow show Survivor.

            Boot Camp is another show that followed Survivor.  This one consists of sixteen contestants who compete for five hundred thousand dollars.  The one who is able to make it to the end gets the money.  This is a highly strenuous program and asks much mentally and physically of the contestants who are participating.  This is a real boot camp, with ex- Marine Drill Instructors who are trained for this type of work.  Boot Camp is aired on Fox.

Another popular reality-based show is Combat Missions.  In this show they put four teams from the military together to participate in competition.  Survivor 1, Rudy Boesch, hosts combat Missions.  In this show there are two parts that complete this program.  The first being the training exercises, which consists of firing range and brutal military obstacles, and the other one combat mission, which tests your strength in various ways.  Combat Missions debut was January 16 on USA. 

No Boundaries, is another show that is like all of the others I have talked about.  In this one, they put fifteen people together and filmed them while they went from Canada all the way to the Artic Circle.  They are set into teams and every second day someone new leads the teams to victory.  During this just like the other ones, someone must get voted off.  The leader at the time must vote someone off and then they will continue their journey to victory. 


Appendix A

Reality Show Survey

Those surveyed: 65 students who attend BGSU.

1.      Do you know what a “Reality show” is? If yes, write down a general definition.

93.8%     said they knew                            61 people said yes

6.1%     said they did not know                 4   people said no


2.      Do you think, “Reality shows” are popular in today’s society?  

      Why or why not?

92.3%      60 people said yes       

7.6%       5  people said no        


3.      How often do you watch “Reality based shows”? 

12.3%                8  people said everyday

                         44.6%               29 people said once a week

                         30.7%               20 people said never

12.3%                8  people said other.


4.      Which is your favorite “reality show”?

26.1%            17 people said Real World

                        26.1%            17 people said they did not have one

23.0%            15 people said Survivor

9.2%              6 people said Shipmates

            6.1%              4 people said Temptation Island

            3.0%              2 people said The Mole

                        3.0%              2 people said Fear Factor

                        1.5%              1 person said Judge Judy

                        1.5%              1 person said Wedding Story


5.      Do you think, “Reality based shows” depict real life correctly?

             61.5%                 40 people said no

             35.3%                 23 people said somewhat

             3.0%                   2 people said yes


In Closing:  What Have We Learned?

Alfredo Medellin

In closing, we must choose very carefully what it is that we watch on television.  We can do this by applying what we learned in each individual paper.  According to Robyn McGuffin, “The Romantic side of Reality TV”, Date shows such as A Dating Story and Temptation Island, will continue to remain popular for as long as they are aired because of their advice and ideas on dating, but mainly on what not to do.  We also learn, according Monica McGee, in the “History of Realty shows”, that the first reality show was Candid Camera and that it has been around for over 50 years. Kelley McCraley, in her research, found that Survivor was the best reality-show of its kind. After that the followers couldn’t get near its standards, thus few have done well on television.  This helps up to see that this phenomenon is not new. 

Further more, Brad McLaughlin said in his paper, “Reality television shows that feature bands and music are so successful because of the past success of the marriage between music and television.”  He punctuates the fact that music and television are success, but that Reality Shows do not show the real struggle behind it.  In Lauren McMullen’s paper, we learn why it is that the industry has chosen to target children.  This helps to emphasize that Realty Shows do not depict reality correctly.  In Matt Meily’s paper we learn about “legal reality shows”.  He used the term “Simplified justice” to better explain them.  He goes on to say that the exception is Court TV, which shows real trials. 

Next, Jonathan Meinhold found that despite most reality shows on TV being false views of reality, Medical Reality shows like Trauma: Life in the ER, Maternity Ward, and other shows like it depict the actual reality of actions in a hospital.  Also, Bill Mangano utters, “Realty TV police shows give an inaccurate description of real police work because they only tell one side of the story.”  This gives us some knowledge on how “Reality Show’s” are formatted.      

            In my Survey of 65 students who attend BGSU, I asked, “Do you know what a “Reality show” is?” an overwhelming 93.8% said they knew.  One of the students wrote, “Yes, shows where people are filmed with no script and put in difficult situations, or challenges” (Appendix A).  Most wrote down a general definition like this one.  It was also interesting that MTV’s Real World and Survivor where the two most popular Reality Television show’s among those surveyed. 

Finally, I asked, “Do you think, Reality based shows depict real life correctly?”  A minute amount of 3.0% said yes, 35.3% said somewhat, and the majority of 61.5% said no.  This helps to emphasize the fact that not only does the majority of the public know that reality television does not depict real life, but also that the research supports there way of thinking.  Television companies are willing to spend as much money as possible to get ratings.  They are even willing to edit and re-edit to make the story line more interesting thus, having you watch.  But we must be careful in choosing what we watch and NOT to blur the line between reality and fiction.   


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