The Rise of the Reality Show

Switch on a television set any day of the week on prime time and you will find at the very least one reality show. The people who participate in these shows are instant celebrities, and have become the topic of discussions around the office cooler, Facebook or Twitter. But why has reality television become so popular and hooked the audience to hard.

There are basically two types of reality shows; those that issue a challenge that the participant has to fulfill, like Survivor or The Great Race, and those that showcase a talent, like X Factor or American Idol. Many of these shows include the viewer in the show, allowing them the power to decide who should go and who should stay. This ensures that viewers get quite heavily invested in the show and the participant that they favor.

Many of the contestants and most of the winners have gone on to achieve more than just 15 minutes of fame. Some have won recording contracts others new jobs and all have walked away with life changing quantities of money. As the audience that gets to watch these very ordinary folks fight their way to the top, in extra ordinary circumstances you can’t help but get sucked into the adventure that they are living out before you every week. You get involved and live a bit of the adventure yourself. You wonder what you would do differently, or marvel at how silly someone is being or how smart another person is. The audience knows at the back of their mind that this is not make belief and that these are people just like them doing something extra ordinary. It is sanctioned voyeurism where sometimes we even get a say in who goes home with all the loot.

As long as there are people who are willing to take a chance on looking foolish for their one shot at fame and fortune, Mr. and Ms. Joe Audience Member will be there, tuning in with their dinner on the sofa, to watch and marvel and the risks some people take and to lend a hand in creating the next big star.

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