Values and Reality Tv Programming

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Values and Reality Television1

Values Portrayed on Reality Television Programs

Wendy Cubos


Professor Jaden H. Klein

August 27, 2010

Values and Reality Television2

Reality Television and Values Portrayed
Reality based, non-scripted television shows have gained popularity over the last Few years. They can be seen on a global scale. Due to this gain in popularity, concerns have emerged about the values that are being portrayed on these shows, particularly how those values affect women. Girls between the ages of 8 -18 spend 6 ½ hours per day with various media (Rideout & Roberts & Foehr, 2005). That amount of viewing has changed what is acceptable behavior and image young girls and women. I have found that reality television programming only shows sexual content 27% of the time, compared with movies at 89%, sitcoms 84%, and soap operas, 80% (Lederer, 2001). As with any television program, reality television programming will still have an impact on standards and behavior, including behavior in women and young girls. Jagodozinki (2003) defines reality television as the careful video construction displaying  “the ‘lives’ of ordinary people engaged in sometimes extraordinary events” (p. 320).  Ouellette  and Murray (2004) explain reality television as decidedly commercial in form and based on what is popular at the time, while claiming to be depicting real life. Pecora (2002) defines reality programming as while unscripted, is edited for the most shock value. Most people in the cast are want to be actors or aspire for fame of any kind. These programs often explore the dynamic of group interactions. Reality television is a means by w which television producers portray reality that has been built to suit their desire for program ratings , where  the reality will satisfy the  the audience,. That is not dissimilar to the goal of much, if not all, of the programming found on television. 

Reality Television and Values3

While there is not much research on how much influence reality television has on these values, there is quite a bit on how television and media affects self-image. These values distort the way women and young girls perceive themselves.

Gerbner’s cultivation theory explained the connection between programming viewers watched and their perceived reality (O’Guinn & Shrum, 1997). In short he states television a person watches, the more they will view things in the world as the way they see them on television. The more exposure to these distortions of the world, the more a person believes those to be reality. For instance, when bombarded with negative views of African Americans a person who is subjected to these views repeatedly will eventually come to believe them. In other words, you perceive what you watch to in fact be what the world should look like.

Since World War II, the media’s ideal female body image has become thinner and thinner. A 1996 study found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soap operas, movies, and music videos is directly linked with their degree of body dissatisfaction and desire to be thin (Tiggemann & Pickering, 1996). It should not be a surprise. Just spend some time watching the latest music videos and the Entertainment Channel. All show females that are very thin. When one puts on a little weight, it is national news. Teenage girls want that same sense of fame and power and being as thin as what they see confirms their own sense of beauty. They are bombarded with images of skinny women on television, giving the impression that being thin is the key to beauty. In another study it was reported that teenage girls who viewed commercials depicting unrealistically thin models caused Reality Television and Values4

them to feel less confident, angrier, and more dissatisfied with their weight and appearance (Hargreaves, 2002). Another author reports that even at the young...
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