Friday, March 23, 2012

Thoughts on Reality TV

Akshay:I don't think there's much reality in reality TV. The contestants, or what ever you want to denote them as, are more like characters than the actors in a sitcom. It's much easier to relate to the cast of How I Met Your Mother than the cast of Jersey Shore or Mob Wives. Characters in a sitcom are created to be real, to be relatable. They are scripted to ignore the camera, where as in reality TV the camera and the director are characters too, picking and choosing what footage is present in the final edit to suggest a certain message. Survivor isn't just a random compilation of people chilling on an island, but rather hones in on specific story lines within the characters, brewing conflict and giving life to the show. Characters in a reality TV show are supposed to just be themselves, but with a camera watching your every move, just how much of yourself are you going to reveal?

Nate: I agree with what Akshay said. Although they say certain TV shows are reality shows, there are people in front of the actors when shooting who give directions and words to say in order to make the audience laugh or to create suspense. On the other side, though scripts are given to the actors in sitcoms or dramas, the actors interpret the script in their own unique ways and also uses ad-lips to make their character more realistic and alive. Thus, I believe that reality TV shows are not realistic. Rather, sitcoms or dramas are more realistic in that each actors make their own characters with what is given.

Pete:Reality TV is somewhat silly, in my opinion. As soon as people are isolated by an array of cameras and producers any semblance of reality leaves the building. People stop acting like themselves and start acting like who they THINK they are as soon as they're in front of a camera.


  1. I agree with the above comments. I don't think that reality tv is real at all. It is likely that the majority of "reality" shows are scripted. I also agree that it is difficult to relate to reality tv shows because what the viewer is watching is not real life. These shows are created merely to entertain a set audience and are therefore more ridiculous than real life. On a side note, I thought the Hunger Games movie was really great :) Good choice Professor Berry.

  2. I happen to love reality television. It has the ability to draw you in even when you do not want to like it. This is due to the fact that it is not reality at all but a bunch of stigmas all concocted into a forty minute time slot. Producers of reality television know what people want to see, so they script exactly that. If in fact a character already naturally creates drama that audiences thrive on, then this character technically is real. Even if every character was not scripted the material that the camera crew picked to appear on television could be cut a certain way as to frame the character in a certain way. Basically, there is no way to create reality on television. It is human nature to act differently in front of a camera.
    Still, I do believe it is possible for some reality shows to be more real than others. For example, shows like Keeping up With the Kardashians and Jersey Shore are obviously scripted because each episode has somewhat of a plot. These competition shows like American Idol, are far less scripted because it is more about competition and the "voice". When I watch reality television I take it for what it is: a stretch of reality. I realize that part of my motive for watching is to see ridiculous things that make me feel better about my actions (as in the case of Jersey shore). It is simply entertaining, but I will admit even though people act differently on camera I think it is impossible to be filmed 24/7 and "act" as a character the entire time, at some point the real person shows through. In other words I think the way someone may be portrayed may be exaggerated but the original character traits come from somewhere.
    Also, the Hunger Games was great!

  3. I agree that reality television show is unreal to some extent. However, we can see the reality, to be specifically, the contrived reality (used in Ryne’s article), or exaggerated reality as well. Those emotions and behaviors people show to the audience in reality television may not be their true personality but do show their personality in specific situation.

    I remember a scene in the Apprentice (3rd Season), when the final two contestant completing their tasks, Tana, the less-educated entrepreneur seemed to be impolite, inefficient and messy leading her team which consisted of previous losers. She was caught by the camera for some stupid thing like cursing her team, keeping the snacks for herself and didn’t even say goodbye to her team members at last. The audience could see that she didn’t even realize there was a camera. Those were very different from what she showed in first series. As a mother of two children, she won over twice as team manager and seemed to be modest and of responsibility and capability at that time. In contrast, the well-educated Kendra showed respect to her team and talent in leadership, cooperation, competence and hard work. Of course there was no doubt Kendra could win the opportunity to be Donald Trump’s apprentice.

    I would like to say, every person has more personalities and emotions than they have realized. In different situation, we may have different behavior and show different personalities. That is not a bad thing because people could be flexible. If we keep the same all the time, we may not survive. But what we need to keep in mind is that please try to keep a good and kind heart. Even you did something you didn’t mean to, you could still have friends, who understand and believe that you are a nice person. Don’t always want to win. Winning is not the whole meaning of life. Step back, you may find a broader sky.

  4. I think reality TV is more so entertaining than it is realistic, and it is harder to relate to these so-called reality tv stars than it is to relate to actual actors in shows about teenage kids or young adults. But I also agree that there are different types of reality that are portrayed in such shows. Shows like Jersey Shore and Laguna Beach are reality shows that are directed to a certain type of audience, so they are a reality that is not realistic to many people but entertaining to watch. And then there are the reality competition shows, like American Idol and the Bachelorette, which are also not entirely realistic but they show a more real side of competition than the other shows I mentioned before.

  5. I agree with Margo in that there are two types of reality television. One type being the competition show where only one winner emerges. The other being more entertainment geared. I disagree that the first type of reality television is not in fact reality. This may be the case for some shows, like the bachelor which are scripted however for the talent shows like American Idol i believe that this is indeed as close to reality television as possible. I do not watch much reality television because it is unintelligent and often times pointless, i do enjoy some of the competition shows. I feel that these shows demonstrate more reality and therefore it is easier for the audience to relate to the contestants. Also many of these shows ordinary people can try out for, unlike Jersey Shore, which was cast.
    There are several reasons that the entertainment shows are unrealistic. The first being that they are cast and scripted. The second being that drama is created in order to entertain the viewers. I personally have never met anyone that has as much drama in their life as some of these reality stars appear to. The final reason being that the only parts aired are the ones in which fighting, drinking, or sex is involved. Even if these stars had a seemingly normal life, it can be edited to seem like their life is a constant circus of emotional drama.

  6. I completely agree with everyone in that reality television is not reality. In my highschool english class, we had a screenwriter for reality tv come in and talk to us. The point of him coming in was to tell us about what real human interaction is like, and how it is almost impossible to capture on television. Whether it is reality tv, sitcoms, or crime dramas, there is rarely real human interaction. When two friends are having a conversation, there is a lot more to conversations than just talking. The hand gestures, body language, and eye contact are equally as important, yet this is hard to depict on television. People act differently in front of a camera.
    With that said, reality television is not real life. It is purely for entertainment. It is a way for people to actually escape reality (ironically) and view people living a life that seems fun, scary, and exhilarating but has no consequences to their everyday life.
    In relation to the Hunger Games, our reality television is very similar to the Hunger Games, but obviously not as extreme. At the same time though, the Hunger Games is a way for the Capital to show their power over all of the other districts, but I do not think that reality tv has any other purpose than to gain viewers and make money.

  7. I agree with everyone in that reality TV is not reality, as well. Reality TV shows are scripted, which therefore eliminates any reality that they may have had in the first place. Shows like the Jersey Shore are meant to show people living their daily lives, plus added excitement that viewers don't get to experience. Fighting, violence, and romance all occur to the extreme on shows like Jersey Shore, which is somewhat amusing to watch for some people. I don't think it is even debatable to say that that shows like these are reality, but the idea of them is to provide some sort of other realistic life that the viewers are not able to experience for themselves. Reality TV shows allow for escapism, so the viewers can leave their lives for an hour or so and experience someone else's.

  8. A phrase I often hear sums up my hesitation to simply declare that Reality Television isn't reality: "Artists use lies to tell the truth."

    Don't get me wrong - I am not defending reality television, I am not saying it's worth the millions of dollars spent to produce it, and I think it's a vulgar depiction of humanity. But I don't think I can say it's not reality.

    Something that nearly everyone has brought up is the fact that most reality television is scripted. That may be true, but so are movies. So are plays. Those are all fake, scripted, and fit the same criteria as reality television like "Jersey Shore." Critics will describe a movie as being a "portrait of every day life." If anything scripted at all can be described as a "portrait of every day life" then that means that in some way, it is reality.

    Reality television shows the worst of people - but would any of dispute that there are disgusting human beings on this planet? No. I don't think that reality television shows our best reality. But it does show *A* reality. And while we may not like what Jersey Shore has to offer, someone did write the script. And if they wrote the script, they thought about the script. And chances are, they drew inspiration from what they've lived, seen, or possibly most disturbing of all, what they'd LIKE to see.

  9. I would have to say that I love reality TV as well, though while I'm watching I'm definitely aware of the fact that what I'm watching is by no means "reality". The thing I do think is reality is how the people no the show react to the situations they get themselves into. I would also add that we have to consider the role of the directors during the editing process. I've read numerous magazine articles that say how editors purposefully cut the characters' dialogue up to make them seem like any type of person the directors can dream up. They know that viewers will only watch entertaining television, the what entertains a majority of viewers are extreme situations, which the directors create. This reminds me a lot of the Hunger Games, and how the team working for the "producer" could literally manipulate the landscape, add objects, and change the time of day. Whether it's the false conditions created in the Hunger Games, or the falsely presented situations on reality TV, the directors do it in order to captivate the audience, and we love it.

  10. I can't comment on reality TV because I have honestly never been interested enough to watch it for more than a few minutes. I find that most of friends as well can't get interested in shows like the Jersey Shore or Survivor. But that in and of itself says a lot about reality TV. Its a genre, and like any genre, there are many people who don't find it appealing. Its also staged in the same way that any form of entertainment is staged. That being said, I found very limited connection between the Hunger Games and reality television. Mainly because the purpose of reality TV is simple entertainment, whereas the Hunger Games were clearly a mechanism of control.

  11. Reality Tv is created for entertainment purposes. If it's game shows, life threatening competitions or just cameras following and filming the life of individuals, it is catered to those who are amused by such events. Personally I used to watch tons of reality tv but due to the rigorous work ethic of college (and the fact I have no free time at all) I found out I can survive without necessarily watching such reality tv shows. Now this isn't the same with sporting events. i still follow the same old Superbowl pizza and wings Sunday, keep up with march madness and watch the premier league every weekend. Now this is where the relation between hunger games and reality tv I feel exists. The hunger games, apart for its obvious political reasoning, is tradition to the inhabitants of the capitol. Sports is a tradition in modern society whereas reality tv just came about and not necessarily a tradition. The country doesn't gather to watch the season finale of the bachelor, we don't dedicate an entire month to a tournament of the survivor and so forth. Tradition is established and important in our society thus the reason why so much care is placed in it. One can say its the reason why the population of the capitol so much admire the hunger games, its tradition.

  12. I don't understand the point of reality television. Correction: the kind of shows found on, say, MTV. Personally, I can't stand most reality TV: Jersey Shore, Mob Wives, the Bachelor...People act very differently--and often VERY stupidly--in front of a camera. So when we know that the people on TV shows are not the people they act like, then why are we so interested in the stupidity they portray? I mean, who CARES about the fake lives of these people? I am a much bigger fan of proper, fictional television, like LOST or Friends, because at least those shows are written with some value, whether its exploring actual controversies of society or simply making fun of our daily lives in sitcom.

    I do, however, watch reality TV that excites competition, like sports and Wheel of Fortune. I feel like the entertainment on this kind of reality TV is more driven by the game itself rather than the drama in the background (although the drama is a huge part of even this reality TV, staged and unstaged). The point of all reality TV is entertainment, but at least the characters on these shows (whether fake or real) are driven by an ulterior purpose. And this provides something worth watching; you can watch sports and ignore the drama if you want to because the game itself provides interesting entertainment.

  13. I think Pete is right by saying that in reality TV people act as"they think they are" rather than the way they really are, but I would take it a step further by saying they may also act the way they they WISH THEY WERE. Indeed, in reality TV you can be whomever you want to be. For example some might act nice to people they actually dislike, just to make the people watching the show like them.
    In the movie The Hunger Games, I think that it is different from our reality TV because they actually are fighting for their lives, so their primary instincts might get revealed even if they were trying to hide them. However, this idea of trying to make people like you is still very present as we see in Katniss and Peeta's romance, because this act will give them sponsors and so a better chance of surviving.
    I agree with what the moderators said about TV series being more realistic than reality TV. In How I Met your Mother, we actually feel close to the characters because they are living lives we could live -with a little more fun or drama in it- but they are really trying to stick with real life situations. Reality TV on the other hand is putting people in situations they would not face in they everyday life and see how they react to this new environment.
    To sum things up, in reality TV the aim is to show ordinary people living "extraordinary" lives, while series show
    professional actors living slightly arranged "ordinary" lives.

  14. While there is obviously quite a bit of intervention in reality television, I still find it entertaining. It's very easy to forget that what you're watching isn't entirely real and some shows have such outlandish premises, they serve as a nice escape from real life. I'm (hopefully) never going to be stuck on an island so I have no idea how I would react to the situation but it's interesting to see how other people act. Even if reality television is often scripted, there is still some element of reality in it and I think that sliver of reality is enough to make reality television believable and entertaining.