5 Reasons Why Reality TV Isn’t For Me

reality tv

Reality TV, according to some definitions, has been with us for longer than most people think – some origins can be traced to the 1940s. While my purpose is not to review a history of the genre, I do think it is important to note Reality TV is actually broader than I originally thought. It includes shows that range from Dancing with the Stars to Survivor, but also talk shows such as Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil.

Here are my five reasons for not watching Reality TV. Please feel free to add your own or register your disagreement in the comments below.

1. Cinematography

The filming style frequently used in some of these programs like “Cops” makes me sick – literally. By this, I mean the “Blair Witch” type of filming, used on shows like “Ghost Hunters.” The “herky-jerky” style is supposed to add authenticity, but really all it does is make me nauseous.

Unfortunately, this style of filming has also bled over into scripted TV programs. Specifically, some of the made for TV SyFy Original movies come to mind, such as Annihilation Earth.

2. Exploitative

Kate Gosselin
Just consider the use of the children in “Jon and Kate plus 8” and you will see what I mean. And then there is the example of the “balloon boy”
hoax, a desperate attempt to promote a reality show pitch that created an unwarranted scare for the safety of a little boy, tying up rescue resources for hours.

I care very much about children and object to the use of them in such a way. They are our future, and deserve a loving and nurturing environment, which I do not believe is achievable under the bright lights of Reality TV’s omnipresence.

3. Misnomers

“Real” and “Unscripted” are the two words used to define this genre. And yet, it is a well known fact that some of these programs are scripted and the action prescribed. Examples are Survivor and Big Brother. While purporting to be “real life situations” where people are shown reacting as events occur, it has been documented that scenes are sometimes re-filmed or recreated to achieve a better camera angle or to make it seem more authentic.

What reality TV gives us is not the unfiltered observations of something, but a highly controlled event that produces a social drama constructed specifically for the camera. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? I have nothing against scripted programming – I really like fiction – but call it that! Otherwise it is a lie. I deal with plenty of real life “drama” and lies on a daily basis and do not need to watch it on TV.

4. Participant Humiliation

Jerry Springer
Andy Warhol said in 1968 that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” It seems that in the quest for that goal, many people are willing to make themselves look like complete idiots, just to be on TV. The people I am thinking of are the ones so desperate to be on TV, they will say anything, do anything, and reveal anything.

I find no good reason to watch programs like Jerry Springer to see relationships or people as they self-destruct. I have heard this called “train-wreck TV,” as in watching something that you just cannot turn away from. Thankfully, I can.

5. Non-Competition

the glee project
Apparently the recent The Glee Project results ended up with everyone winning. Say what? Why hold a competition, and then have everyone win? If you are going to do that, then don’t call it a competition show, just call it an audition where everyone gets a part.

Additionally there is the “popularity” factor of viewer voting. Does the best person or couple win shows like Dancing with the Stars or American Idol when viewers vote, or is it just a measure of the popularity of the person or persons? I was happy to finish high school and get away from popularity contests, and certainly do not want to relive them!


Thankfully, my TV can tune in hundreds of channels, so I have plenty of viewing options that are not Reality TV programs. And, for those of you that enjoy these programs, I’m happy for you. I think it is a good thing that there are so many options for all of us, that we can choose what we like. We have come a long way from three VHF channels and a few UHF channels, thank goodness! I hope that you will let me know your thoughts on Reality TV – why you like it and why you don’t.