Most people have a reality show that they enjoy, and for many it is a guilty pleasure. However, they may not admit to being hooked on the latest season of the Kardashians, or that their DVRs are filled with numerous episodes of the Real Housewives of “wherever they are now.” It raises the question though, about why so many people are seemingly hooked on these shows, which most fans would probably admit are pretty absurd. Truly, if anyone can watch an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and think that it is normal, it would be shocking. However, there may actually be healthy reasons so many people watch reality television.
According to Jim Taylor, a professor at University of San Francisco, who studies reality television, anything that is taboo has a seductive quality to the public. In society, people know that the typical behaviors displayed by reality stars are not rewarded or accepted. For example, most people would not throw a tantrum and flip over a table if someone took their lunch from the office refrigerator, however badly they may want to. Taylor mentioned watching these shows for some may let out their inner baby who wants to tell off the woman who just cut in front of them in line, for example. Another reason people watch is because of the fame and fortune. It is interesting to see a regular Joe become a reality star practically overnight.
Many believe that reality television is disgusting and that it rewards bad behavior. It is seems as though it is condoning choices like flipping over a table or cheating on a spouse. People who do this on reality TV are generally rewarded with truckloads of cash. Audrey Longson, a psychiatrist located in New Jersey claims that reality TV makes narcissism something that is normal and that that is extremely alarming. However, there are a few people that actually claim the opposite. According to some experts, there may be healthy reasons people watch reality shows.
Danyelle Little, actress from The Cubicle Chick, loves to watch the hit show Big Brother. She claims that even though the show is not positive, it is a case study of how adults behave in different conditions. She is specifically interested in how people will change their personalities and throw fellow cast members under the bus, all in the pursuit of money. She claims it is an interesting lesson in the socialization of human beings.
In surveys, people also claimed that they watch shows like Dancing With the Stars because they enjoy seeing people step out of their comfort zones. Celebrities on shows like this are really putting themselves out there and taking on something new and physically challenging. In addition, they are doing so in front of millions of viewers with the possibility of totally humiliating themselves. It is actually kind of inspiring. People who watch shows where the reality stars have a common goal of losing weight, such as The Biggest Loser, might be more likely to make healthy changes in their own lives as well, and there have been anecdotal accounts where this has been the case. Many claim it inspires them to work out, even if they do not feel like it.
Shows like Project Runway offer viewers a glimpse into a world that they may otherwise never get to see. Project Runway shows people who are experts working in their fields. For those who cannot even sew, it is interesting to watch the designers create spectacular pieces that they themselves would never be able to put together.
So while there may be some definite downfalls to the world of reality television, there might also be healthy reasons why so many Americans watch reality shows. Of course, some shows, for example The Jersey Shore, or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, may not inspire anyone, unless they are inspiring people how not to act.
Opinion By: Rebecca Savastio