Reality shows have taken over my generation’s television market. I’ll be the first to admit that about 90 percent of the things I watch are reality shows, but I have never taken the time to explore why it is so appealing to watch people have meltdowns or parade around drunk on national television.
According to the Kansas City Star newspaper, in 2001, reality shows accounted for 20 percent of TV’s prime-time schedule. Today these shows make up more than 40 percent of TV programming. Reality TV has turned into an obsession in pop culture with each new show trying to be more outrageous and over-the-top than the next.
Take Jersey Shore for example. Entertainment Weekly reported that the cast members got paid a whopping $100,000 per episode in season five to party and get drunk. This phenomenon has taken eight nobodies and turned them into multimillion dollar “celebrities.”
CNN reported Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was recently paid $32,000 for her visit to Rutgers University and gave students the insightful advice to “study hard, but party harder.”
I invest my time into what I would like to think is a slightly more sophisticated reality show empire: the Kardashians. While this family is not getting drunk on camera, their lives are nowhere near my reality. They are constantly jet setting around the world and going to lavish events, not to mention the fact that they get their hair and makeup professionally done every day.
E! reported that “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event” became its most watched event ever, drawing in 10.5 million viewers and making the couple an estimated $17 million.
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries filed for divorce 72 days later. Personally, I felt taken advantage of. They filmed their wedding and shared their “love” with the world, but it seems like a giant publicity stunt.
At the end of the day, we really only have ourselves to blame for feeding into this reality show culture. If we didn’t watch the shows, these people would have no careers. I’m not advocating avoiding reality shows all together; I just think people need to get out and live their own lives instead of watching someone else live theirs.
Jessica Barton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org