The Rise of Reality Television

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“The Rise of Reality Television”

Reality television has touched the lives of millions worldwide, proving itself to be a global phenomenon among television series genres. As the future of the television consistently evolves, reality television programming has claimed its spot among networks’ daytime and primetime lineups. This series genre that has proven successful with ratings in the past is constantly being upgraded and adapted into higher forms of entertainment. Reality television allows individuals to explore the depths of human behavior, allowing viewers to choose from a variety of personalities to watch. Reality television promotes viewer-program interaction and involvement, often resulting in the viewer being able to affect the outcome of a program. Reality television also has the power to bestow fame, fortune, or love unto individuals chosen to participate in the program taping process. The power that the television possesses is extremely influential among society. Television personalities, such as news anchors, the cast of series’ (scripted and unscripted), actors in commercials, to cartoon characters can impact an individual’s impression of the world. Broadcasting networks worldwide arrange contracts with such personalities, essentially paying them to fill screen time. After decades of producing scripted embellished programs, with the exception of documentaries, broadcasting networks developed a new form of entertainment; reality television. By using the information gained over the prior years, networks found a way to produce shows at a cheaper cost, fill time gaps on their stations, and cut back on budget costs while generating a profit from niche audiences. Reality television has become a controversial topic among viewers, with the majority of society deeming it as a negative change facing the future of television. Others may argue that viewers are stuck in their old ways, and can’t enjoy the beauty of exploiting human behavior. “On broadcast television, 15 of the top 20 highest-rated programs were unscripted shows. The shows all had familiar names, like ‘America’s Got Talent’ on NBC, ‘Big Brother’ on CBS, ‘The Bachelorette’ on ABC and ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ on Fox. What viewers say they want and what they really watch are not the same thing. ‘It’s clear people have their favorite pastime reality shows, and they’re watching them,’ said David F. Poltrack, the chief research officer for CBS.” (Carter, 2010) Many believe that reality television has become a global phenomenon overnight, but that simply isn‘t true. Reality programming has actually been around since the 1930’s, when television had become the dominant mass medium over radio. As television’s popularity increased in this era, established radio star Allen Funt transformed “Candid Microphone” into “Candid Camera, “in 1948. In the following years, networks would develop and produce thousands of scripted programs, while simultaneously creating niche audience groups among viewers. Some of the people who played the roles of characters on television series would become rich, and famous. These actors had become a valuable tool to broadcasting networks, because they helped generate profit, and would hopefully boost popularity margins. But producing scripted programs is expensive, include paying actors, and writer fee’s, along with other miscellaneous costs. Networks created unscripted programming otherwise known as reality television to counteract the opposition. About 40 years after “Candid Camera” was aired, Fox created “Cops,“ and ABC developed “America’s Funniest Home Video’s.” While targeting a youthful audience, MTV brought “The Real World” to life, where seven adolescent strangers would live together and have their lives taped. Over the next few years, networks realized the potential among unscripted programs, especially since the cost of production would be considerably cheap. Instead of paying actors, and script producers, networks would...
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