The concept of reality TV is not new. In fact, the first reality TV show aired in 1948, 'Candid Camera'. Reality TV provides its viewers with variety, which in turn gives the channel what it wants- revenue. Shows such as "Survivor", "American Idol" and "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" are perfect representatives of reality TV. The younger generations look up to the people in these shows and their number of followers keeps increasing. The stars in these shows gain popularity and become rich and famous, and all along, all they do is be themselves on TV. But who gets to decide whether they're being real or not? Or whether the actual things happening behind the camera are being shown or not? Although there are many people who believe that the content of the Reality TV shows is real, what they do not know is that the stars sell their lives to the television and use their acting skills to build their fanbase in the few of hours of tailored footage that we, as their audience, gets to see.
Loyal fans of the reality TV shows argue that they watch these shows because they are real, and also because they provide them with variety. The main concept of such shows is that they are not scripted. But, Reality TV's most prevalent viewers are teenagers, who are naive enough to believe what they see. The younger the viewers, the lesser its content will be judged, since their viewers now do not have enough experience to judge them. These shows are also famous because of the drama they contain. Keeping Up With the Kardashians has one fight in every episode. They provide people with the thrill and excitement they lack in their everyday lives. More variety on TV, more hours people spend in front of their television set. Though this variety is most likely added into the show, and is not there in 'reality'.
Firstly, we know that TV channels need content, and they will do anything to go ahead in the race for the most viewers, even if it means portraying fake as real. Stars get paid per episode, for every season they complete. The first season might actually be something good about them, but as the number of seasons increases, the quality of the content decreases. Families fight, people get married, partners break-up or get divorced; and the whole world knows everything about them. In the Indian version of UK's Big Brother- Bigg Boss, a contestant got married on TV, and her married life lasted for as long as the season itself. Kim Kardashian too got married on her show; her marriage lasted exactly 72 days. Clearly, the concept of privacy seems lost when it comes to reality TV, they are doing this for money, and it does not have to be real.
Moreover, most of the people in these shows are actors by profession, if not actors, then models. Acting is an essential part of their job requirement. If everything in their show is real, then why do they have to act? 'Acting' means playing out something that isn't real, this defies the whole concept of such shows. Most of the reality TV stars grow up in media; they know how the media works. Kim Kardashian was a stylist before she became famous, and Paris Hilton was born into a world-famous family. These stars stay within their society, attend parties, familiarize themselves with people they need to know to get their fame. From these people, the ones unfamiliar with the celebrity lifestyle get all the tips they need to be the best on TV, they get the inside, necessary-to-survive-in-the-media information, which the general public has no clue about.
In addition to that, a whole day of these stars' lives is fit into an hour on TV. I would say the rest 23 hours probably have more genuine material than the one hour shown. The producers and directors only show the parts that will get them viewers. More viewers means better ratings for their show, which in turn means better pay. What the viewers get to see is interesting, but the rest of the day for these stars must be as normal, or boring as it is for everyone else. "As someone who has literally watched tens of thousands of hours of raw footage, nobody is interesting all of the time" (Rupel, n.d.). This is what the public does not get to see, and we forget this while forming our opinions about our 'favorite' TV shows or stars. We do not know everything about them, and this is simply because we are never given the exact, clear picture.
Watching TV is not bad, watching reality TV shows is also not bad, but we must be aware of how much time and love we invest into these shows. The highlight of our day should not be watching these shows. Our concepts regarding such shows must be clear; we have to remember that even if something about them might be real, most of it is not. One step at a time, we can change this trend of modeling our lives on those of reality TV stars, but first, we need to realize that Reality TV is not what it used to be; it has become less about 'reality', and more about money nowadays. By decreasing our dependence upon such shows for our daily entertainment, unknowingly, we are doing the stars a favor; they still have their fame, however, there is less need for paparazzi to dig into their private lives, which will in turn lead to them having a more normal life. In the end, it is good-for-all solution and everyone benefits.