In a Label Online Exclusive, we've got the extended edition of 'The Reality TV Factor' from Issue 2 of Label Magazine. Read more thoughts from our writers in this, the first of a three part special, right here on Label Online.
Back in the nineties, when we were kids, I have fond memories of Saturday night television being a host of game shows with presenters in jazzy outfits and prizes like a food blender, or a year’s supply of food shopping.
Now our Saturday night screens are saturated with supposedly ‘normal’ members of society subjected to some sort of anthropological experiment as a means of entertainment.
Welcome to the 21st century, and welcome to reality TV.
The shameful thing is, it’s terribly addictive. On more than one occasion have I found myself bored in my uni kitchen, at which point I have turned on Big Brother live. To see what? People just like myself, ordinary people, living together, cooking, cleaning, waking and sleeping, and yet I sit there and watch it as if it was some fantastic scientific discovery.
Is it bad for us to be watching such programmes? After all,TOWIE is just hilarious when you watch it as an outsider, and even its copycat Made in Chelsea stirs a few giggles as we watch these convoluted characters on television, just existing.
The fantastic thing about the shows is that they are just ‘everyday people’, yet it would be hypocritical to say that any Tom, Dick or Harry could walk in to Channel 4 and get a place in the Big Brother house. Instead, the creators of the shows look for the oddballs of society, those who were the outsider at school, or the opposite end, the popular kids, in an attempt to stir up some kind of entertaining material for us to all become addicted to viewing.
The social eye-openers like Ladette to Lady give us a whole television show about laddish girls, and surely if we wanted to see that, then we could go to the local pub on a Saturday night?
Even the talent shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor give us an opportunity to subject people to ridicule on national television. Granted, the winners do usually have fantastic talents to be sure, but I don’t understand why we have to sit through all the rubbish acts to get to the good stuff. And even once the competition is over, the winner is never usually as successful as the runners up, -cough-cough- Joe Mc-whodry?
It would be fair to generalise here though, there are some types of reality TV which are realistic and do call for people with a genuine talent. And these are recent additions to the reality TV mix, The Great British Bake Off to name just one, offers a competition for people with a real talent in baking, and it does have comedic moments, which are not taken too far by production teams.
One thing is for sure, reality TV is addictive, it’s not going to go away unless we stop watching it, but I pray for the day when I can turn the TV on and see every channel showing something which isn’t a reality show!