Impacts of Reality TV on Authenticity

Nowadays, 67% of the programs watched on television is reality and Americans spend roughly 1/3 of their free time watching it. This is worth arguing because ever since reality tv became popular in 2000, it has been influencing society and younger generations in an unhealthy way. I personally believe that most reality tv shows are screening unacceptable behavior for society. Reality began in 1983 but got popular in 2000. They started off as documentaries but became reality when tv shows had built in surveillance cameras watching everyone`s moves. The main purpose for reality tv is to entertain. We get entertainment from a variety of different reality shows. From cooking shows to game and much more. In this paper, I will talk about the reality tv and how they appeal to the audience, the effects reality tv has on society, reality tv and their phenomenon’s. For my sources, I used medical news which breaks down and informs readers about life science and medical issues. An article written by Dr. Marcus Carter on the show Survivor talks about the phenomenon on the show and what the show is about. The book Reality TV Factual Entertainment and Television Audiences by Annette Hill talks about the phenomenon of reality tv. Paradox and the Consumption of Authenticity Through Reality Television is a journal written by Stacy Wood and Randall Ros about the authenticity of reality shows and the different paradoxes about reality.

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To start out, the reader should know the definition of reality tv. Reality tv is a program on television that shows peoples ordinary life, behaviors and real-life situations for entertainment. Reality tv is known for their unscripted tv shows. Reality tv is a popular genre due to the real-life documentation of someone`s life and what they go through daily. It shows people what kind of media exposure you get when you are famous and the different situations that happen. While there are some good reality shows, others show the negative side of reality tv. Negative effects like violence and aggression are being shown frequently now compared to the past. People getting into fights, making illegal moonshine, and being racist. These all appeal to the audience because of the audience like people being humiliated and the drama. Reality shows appeal to us because some enjoy the pain in others and some enjoy the different competitions. For example, the show survivor you see people in pain and discomfort while competing and living their daily life and you enjoy it. You enjoy it because you do not typically see this side of people in this kind of state. People become interested in how other people deal with the pain and discomfort because it is often that we do not see this side. It is because society thinks emotions mean weakness. This is a downside of reality shows because people see that emotional side and some people make fun of you.

Reality tv has negative effects on people that watch them and society. When I think of reality tv I think of Keeping Up with The Kardashians, Teen Moms, Americans Next Top Model, etc. These shows show their everyday life and their struggles. While showing their daily lives, they also influence negative sides. Keeping Up with The Kardashians is a family reality tv that follows around Kris, Kylie, Kendall, Khloe, Kim, and Kourtney. While they follow around the girls, they also film other family members and friends. The Kardashians are known for their plastic surgery and the drama that they have on the show. From lip fillers to butt implants. Kylie Jenner the youngest of the girls got lip fillers because she did not like how her lips were so small. Her sister, Kim Kardashian, got butt implants because she did not like what her body looked like. They are showing society that instead of bracing who you are, to get the surgery done to alter yourself. The show Americans Next Top Model is a reality show where hopeful models compete to be named the next top model. The age group that watches this show range from 13+. While watching this show, teens are wanting to become like these models because they think that if they were to look like the models that everyone would like them better. When people are in their teens, this is when they began to feel self-conscious about what they look like. According to medical news, an estimated 9.2 million plastic surgery procedures are influenced by reality tv and in young girls eating disorders is three times higher since 2000. Reality tv is making girls think that if they are not skinny or have big lips then they will not fit in. Reality shows are telling society that women only value being skinny or pretty.

Another effect reality tv has in society is how they portray bullying and aggression. Reality shows are showing girls and boys often bullying their cast members and some are often fighting random people on tv in clubs. For example, The Real Housewives which is explained in the title of a group of women all around the United States that are housewives. They show drama, bullying, and aggression to each other. They gossip, act maliciously towards each other, and often behave aggressively. By putting it in the show, they are showing that it is a natural habit of girls to gossip with each other and often be rude. Being disrespectful and rude can get you what you want your way. They are showing girls it is okay to be mean to other girls, and it is okay to gossip when everyone else is trying to tell them it is not okay or nice. In another show, Jersey Shore, with a group of young people that call themselves family and “meatballs.” They go out clubbing and hang out. Bringing back people to their house to continue the party and maybe end up in the bedroom. While they are clubbing, they often get into fights with people outside of the house. Random people while they are drunk. They also get into fights with each other. Some shouting but most of them end with a fist fight. This behavior is showing everyone that it is okay to act like this out in public. Most people know better, but the younger generations will look at this and see them as role models. Wanting to be just like them.

Now, I will discuss reality shows and their different phenomenon`s. A phenomenon is where a situation happens, and you do not know if it is for real or fake. Reality shows are supposed to be known for the non-actors that sign up to be on the shows and the complete reality as people follow around while they do daily things. But do they contain as much reality as you think they are? While watching reality shows, they show you the daily life and situations someone makes. On reality game shows, they show you as much reality as possible. On some reality shows, when filming and they miss something important they want you to act out what just happened again. The show, Survivor, is a game show that castaways go to a location and compete against each other for a prize of $1 million. They are put into two teams are given little supplements (such as food, water, clothing). The show gives off a sporty vibe. To win a competition, they use different strategies to win. Their central phenomenon is that this show is more of a sport than a game show that combines betrayal and social skills to come up on top. The more they socialize and become friends with other people than they have a greater chance of going to the top two because everyone likes them. The actual genre reality tv has their own phenomenon. The phenomenon is what everyone talks about. The competitions they hold on game shows, who is going to get the rose on the Bachelor, people exploring haunted places. They all use social media as a platform to make reality tv bigger. Another book I found by Suzanne Pinger talks about the way reality tv effects women and how the shows portray women in society.

Yes, while most reality shows have a negative effect. There are some variety of shows that show the positives of reality tv. For example, the show Hoarders is about people who hoard junk and people come help them get rid of the unnecessary items. This show demonstrates to society how if you keep collecting unimportant things that it could spiral out of control and become a big mess. Another show would be my 600 lb. life, which shows people daily lives as they try to get the help they need because they cannot stand living like that any longer. The television show takes you to all the doctor appointments and where they go as you seem them struggle to get around. While there are some good reality shows that show the cause and effect of a bad decision. There are still many shows that influence aggression and bullying in society. Making girls feel like they should only care about gossiping and gossiping. There need to be more educational and positive shows to watch for younger generations and other people, so they do not grow up thinking that it is okay to act rambunctious.

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Reality tv shows are screening unacceptable behavior for society. In my research, I found a variety of different articles that talked about reality tv and the negative effects they have. Not only in younger generations but to everyone. More reality television shows for younger generations need to be made so they do not become self-conscious about themselves. They need to make reality shows restricted for the younger kids because they should not be watching people fight, have sex, and get plastic surgery done. I found that more people agree that reality tv is harmful to society and something needs to be done.

Works Cited

  • “Reality TV May Be Attributed to the Growth in Cosmetic Surgery.”, News Medical, 21 Mar. 2005,
  • Carter, Marcus. “Survivor: The Sport of Betrayal.” Pursuit, The University of Melbourne, 16 Nov. 2018,
  • Hill, Annette. Reality TV Factual Entertainment and Television Audiences. Taylor and Francis, 2014.
  • Pingree, Suzanne. “The effects of nonsexist television commercials and perceptions of reality on children’s attitudes about women.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 2.3 (1978): 262-277.
  • Rose, Randall L., and Stacy L. Wood. “Paradox and the consumption of authenticity through reality television.” Journal of consumer research 32.2 (2005): 284-296.



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