Week #2: Tania Winston

The concept of “reality’ in Reality Shows is mostly deceiving. This form of mass media has infiltrated the network channels with much popularity, often times leaving most of its viewers confused, and with them wondering why they wasted an hour of their life watching it. The disregard for authenticity in order to further ratings, and the exploitation of dramatic situations, have the television watching population shaking their heads at the audacity of it all. However, there are a few reality shows that have some redeeming qualities. Just like people, reality shows have their own personalities and contain the potential to change culture and society in a good or bad way.
Most people regard reality shows as just another form of entertainment, where the “reality’ is made up and not really “real.’ Dramatic situations in some of these shows are instigated by producers to increase their ratings, and also to increase the ratings of their networks. Most times viewers will only see the negative sides of the persons portrayed or the situations they are experiencing, and form an opinion of it based on their initial impressions. Society’s youth are deeply enmeshed within the trappings of reality television, mimicking behavior they see and witness in its programming. Some of these shows start off with the best of intentions. “Sixteen and Pregnant’ with its spin-offs of “Teen Mom’ and “Teen Mom 2’ began with the goal of informing young girls of the repercussions of teenage pregnancy. But they soon became more famous for the bad behavior of some of the cast, leaving viewers to forget the important message of abstinence and birth-control the shows were originally trying to convey. Another problem that arises from viewing some of the entertainment reality shows is how the negative behavior of some of the cast members can influence impressionable people. Shows like “The Bad Girls Club’ end up becoming an unhealthy role model to young girls, creating the need for them to bully others in order to be seen as the “baddest bitch’ around.
The need to get rid of this type of mass media, however, is not necessary. While there are some reality shows in today’s culture focused more on entertainment value, there are other shows presented in mainstream television depicting genuine real-life situations. These shows are relateable and informative. Self-improvement shows like “The Biggest Loser’ and “Til Debt Do Us Part,’ help its viewers improve the quality of their lives by either losing weight, or trying to help them take control of their finances. Documentary-type programs, such as “Intervention’ and “Hoarders’ and the National Geographic Channel, help people understand and relate to other individuals and circumstances. Renovation shows, HGTV, and DIY Network, are just a few reality-based television programming impacting lives in significant ways. Viewers can either see the similarities between the cast and their own lives, or see the differences in other cultures and traditions. Their knowledge grows as they learn new things, their compassion flowers as they see people going through difficulties they have never experienced, and their understanding expands as their hearts and minds open to new possibilities.
The mass media of Reality Television encompasses so many different kinds of programming. Though the type of influence it has among society is thought to be mostly negative, the impact reality television has, as a whole with regards to mass media, can be life changing to the right person, or groups of individuals. Most people forget there are other kinds of reality shows, ones that have helped shape the culture of today’s society. Where would life be without “The Price is Right,’ “The People’s Court,’ or “Cops?’ To get rid of Reality TV would mean getting rid of all depictions of real life situations, not just the not so real ones.