Why Are Reality Shows So Popular

Switch on the television at any time of the day, you are almost sure to find a reality show on some channel or the other. Chances are that you have watched at least one of these shows and have taken a fancy to following the minutiae of the contestants’ lives as they unfold on the small screen right in front of your eyes. Just what is it about reality shows that make them so popular and grabs your attention like nobody’s business?

The contestants in a reality TV show are not acting; they are being who they are in real life. The producers and the editors of the show create a captivating story line as they go snip-snip with their editorial scissors. The result is pure, unadulterated entertainment, much more potent that any soap opera that you may have seen.

Do people like reality shows because they are real? Or do they just seem real? Observe yourself the next time you watch a reality show. Even if it is something as exaggerated and bogus as a starlet’s bridegroom hunt, you find yourself instantly drawn to it and caught up with the minute details. You may also find yourself unwittingly switching back to the channel to catch up with what’s going on even if you manage to channel surf to another show. Reality shows are so captivating possibly because you are getting a ringside view of other people’s ostensibly private lives.

Take any reality show, there will be some element of competition in it. The more fierce the competition, the higher the TRP ratings. Take the popular reality TV shows – Survivor, Big Brother or the desi Big Boss for instance. We like it when people bully each other, call each other names and engage in backstabbing all in the name of winning the competition. There is a certain voyeuristic pleasure that we derive, out of watching others fight it out and sometimes completely humiliate each other, all within the safety of our couch with a bowl of popcorn in hand.

Of course, there is a smattering of good too about the entire gamut of reality TV. Ordinary people from small towns get to participate and compete against contestants from across the country; the show is a huge platform to showcase their talents. People are, and always will be, obsessed with fame and fortune. The reality show contestants have their mini-celebrity status for the duration of the show and for a short while after. Some even manage to grab a couple of new shows banking on the popularity or notoriety that the reality show had generated for them.

Now, if you are interested in taking a peek into what happens behind the screens of reality TV, grab a copy of the novel Ăśberstar by the Australian author Vaughn Alaine-Marshall. The author had interviewed reality show contestants from across the world before locking himself up in his study to complete the novel. The novel follows the path of eleven hopefuls as they compete for the starring role in a feature film. A must read for all reality show fans, haters and aspirants.

Love it or hate it, reality TV is here to stay. Producers will continue producing reality shows, big brands will continue endorsing them and we will continue watching them as long as the average human being continues to derive much pleasure from being a fly on the wall.