Reality television is not harmful to its viewers and can be beneficial. It is a good source of entertainment. Reality television has become a major part of what people are watching on television today. People are drawn to these shows to escape everyday stresses. It has become so popular because it plays off of people’s emotions and imagination.
Sitcoms usually portray perfect families who can solve any problem in thirty minutes. Reality shows show real people and how they react to different situations. Many people are fascinated with watching how people react to different environments and different people. It is unpredictable and surprising. Every episode people are tuned in and curious as to what is going to happen next, which keeps them watching week after week. It leaves them imagining what is going to happen next, or what might have happened if someone had made a different decision. They wait in anticipation for the next week’s episode, wondering who will win the money and who will be chosen to go on to the next round.
Many reality shows also offer a large amount of money to the winner. It is interesting to see what people will actually do to win. On shows such as Fear Factor contestants eat pig intestines, free fall from twelve story buildings with only a quarter-inch cable to stop their bodies from hitting the concrete pavement below and do other dangerous and disgusting stunts. (Munroe B8) Viewers and contestants are both interested in easy money.
Another popular show, Temptation Island, sends unmarried couples to a tropical island to see if they will cheat on their partner with other sexy singles. People seem to be captivated by all the fighting, drama and random hook-ups. It is interesting to see who is still together and who broke up at the end of the show.
A study conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia showed that reality television shows could have a positive impact of their viewers. According to recent Nielsen ratings, shows such as Survivor, Paradise Hotel, Temptation Island, Fear Factor, Big Brother and The Bachelor are attracting more than 18 million viewers per episode. According to Cynthia Frisby, assistant professor of advertising at the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia “Entertainment needs are met through reality television because these shows allow people to make comparisons with media images – comparisons that ultimately help them feel better about themselves and their personal circumstances.” Television provides the thrill of observing danger and suspense without suffering any consequences. Reality television shows distract people from tragic and stressful events in everyday life for thirty minutes to an hour at a time.
People can also become more involved with the shows than just watching. With technology such as the internet and web cams, people can watch reality shows 24 hours a day. There are also chat rooms and message boards for people to talk about their favorite reality show at any time. This allows the viewer to follow and interact with the show for more than thirty minutes. The show came become part of their everyday lives.
The main goal of reality television shows is to draw audiences using drama, sex and being unpredictable. People continue watching because of their curiosity on what will happen next or what would have happened if someone made a different decision. Reality television can be a positive escape from reality and not harmful to its viewers.