In the early 90s, reality TV took the country by storm. Starting with COPS (The original unscripted drama), followed by MTV‘s The Real World, and booming at the turn of the century with the Kardashians. But just over a decade ago, fans began using technology that would refocus society to the “REALITY” taking place around them.
During the early 2000s, while raising a new generation, young parents became continuously exposed to reality TV. And as parenting evolved in the 21st century, so did the scheduling of the shows; Weekdays, weeknights, weekends, and holidays, viewers could tune into reality TV almost 24/7. With each episode, there was an unprecedented display of behaviors lacking morals, culture, or values of any kind. Yet, reality TV continued to expand for nearly 20 years leaving Americans with few other choices for entertainment. Separating entertainment from reality became blurred leaving parents without being able to tell their kids “it’s just acting”. Thus dramatic-egotistic behavior of real people became well seeded into American culture.
Drunken fights, sexual conquests, substance abuse, and external glamour.
The “reality lifestyle” concept was extremely successful and extremely influential. Like modern day soap operas, watching domestic-melodramatic situations became a trend. The public was fixated on drunken fights, sexual conquests, substance abuse, and external glamour. Gripping their audience, families exchanged quality time to instead keeping up and obsessing with the enormous popularity of reckless behavior.
Unfortunately cable ratings drove their dramatic recklessness. Shows portrayed the classy and rich as spoiled and resentful. Others as challenging towards authority, and some getting away with drunken brawls and drug use. At no time was inspiration for greatness encouraged. It was simply “my life is dramatic and still better than yours”…until social media took over.
Social media sparks reality.
As social media gained momentum, it reshaped the perspective of reality TV. A public subconscious-awareness of “reality” was awaken influenced by reality stars themselves. Unaware of it, they stripped away their own mystique with continuous status updates on social media. As it turned out, without drama to build for cable ratings and no controversy to exploit for the next episode, reality stars appeared no different than normal people. Ultimately their own social media postings striped the power of their cable TV shows.
At the same time, the public was empowered by social media and began showcasing the reality around them. Dramatic or loving, reckless or humorous, the public became aware of their ability to share their own lives with thousands of others. Following the example of reality shows, where no acting talent is needed, the public decisively took on the awesome responsibility to gain followers their own way.
Desperation sets in on reality TV.
Nonetheless, in the last five years, cable and reality TV shows have made an effort to stay on the air and repoint the audience back towards them. However, the public is now entrenched with access to recording their own lives. And as they wake up and share their lives, America is observing the negative influence of reckless behavior over two generations.
The resulting influence of social media over reality TV is not yet finalized. What is certain however, is that Millennials and Generation X are going to showcase their ability to influence society. For over 20 years, they have been given the example by untalented individuals on how far popularity can go with just a camera. As a result, the public will continue to record and share their own reality with thousands putting away for good the need for reality TV.
Meanwhile, mid-lifer reality stars are trying to make a camera comeback and negatively influence yet another generation. However, we seem to have reached the end of that episode and can finally make our way back to scripted entertainment through apps such as Netflix. That is, real scripted dramas requiring real talent.