Even if you don’t watch television very much, other than to catch up on your favorite dramas or comedies, you probably know that reality TV has taken over the airwaves. Sure, these shows have given a number of people their start in Hollywood, but the quality and content of the shows themselves often leave a lot to be desired. It’s hard to believe (and kind of sad) that many of these shows are what future generations will deem as “classics.”
While it’s not possible (or completely necessary) to go back to the television and film eras of times past, it’s probably best to improve the quality of modern television for several reasons. The examples that are set on some reality shows give some people the impression that spoiled and entitled behavior works in the real world. There’s also a lot of superficial and egotistical conversations on reality TV shows, and the cast members often deal with issues that the average person can’t relate to. Some people even view reality TV as an escape from reality, which is completely ironic. Here are just 12 of the ways that reality television is basically destroying our society.
12. Reality TV Encourages Selfish Behavior
A number of the reality television programs today promote selfishness. Every cast member wants to be the star, and will do almost anything to achieve that goal. Of course, the producers of the show promote this behavior because it makes for “interesting” TV, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Even if you’re not a child with an ultra-impressionable mind, you may still find that you at least consider behaving like one of your favorite reality stars when you’re not getting what you want. Pouting, lying to others for selfish game and sabotaging another person’s career or reputation aren’t traits that will make you popular with family or friends. Trying to be overly selfish in real life can have serious consequences that most people aren’t prepared to deal with.
11. Reality TV Promotes Unrealistic Expectations
If you’re a fan of reality TV, the spoiled and entitled behavior that you see on your favorite shows can both disgust and intrigue you. Most women who scream at their husbands or boyfriends, or throw their mate’s clothes off a balcony, aren’t going to be rewarded with a lavish gift like jewelry. It’s also generally true that releasing a sex tape in order to become an international superstar isn’t a solid career plan for most people. Reality TV can make you think you can do things that you really shouldn’t do, because the results aren’t going to be favorable.
10. Reality TV Degrades Family Values
There are lots of reality shows on the air these days that feature families, but that doesn’t mean all of these shows are promoting good family values. Television producers know that show ratings go up when siblings bicker with each other or parents have relationship issues. Perhaps people want to see this to remind themselves that their lives aren’t all that bad. However, subconsciously, your brain is getting the message that family togetherness isn’t a priority. After all, maybe your family’s entertaining dysfunction will be discovered one day, and you’ll get your own reality show. Since that’s not likely, it’s best not to use reality TV as a guide for keeping your family relationships intact.
9. Reality TV Lowers Television Network Quality
Remember when networks like MTV and VH1 were known for their quality music content? Those days are long gone. Sure, these stations still show music videos, but a significant portion of the program lineup is filled with reality shows that don’t exactly promote great morals. There’s also that reality show on CBS that encourages people to be sneaky and underhanded when it looks like no one is watching. These shows glorify drunken behavior, turn a blind eye to infidelity, and promote physical violence. We don’t need any more of those things in the real world. This type of content also lowers the credibility of the TV station, which reduces the chances of seeing more quality programs on these channels.
8. Reality TV Encourages Unhealthy Relationships
After watching a few episodes of a reality TV show with a romantic theme, you may walk away thinking that relationships are nothing more than a huge competition. After all, women and men volunteer to come on these shows, become “intimate” with people they barely know, and hope to build a substantial future without communication or mutual understanding. You’ll likely also get the message that being catty or overly vindictive will help you win the heart of the man or woman you love. Again, these behaviors are not recommended in the real world, and are often the quickest way to have relationship problems.
7. Reality TV Gives A False Sense of Confidence (Or Lack Thereof)
Reality television shows that focus on measuring a person’s talent can be entertaining to watch. However, as people are eliminated from the show, you may wonder if you’ll experience that type of rejection if you ever decide to pursue your dreams of acting, signing or designing. Reality TV can send the message that a person’s abilities and overall self-worth can be measured in the amount of votes they receive from the general public each week. Yes, we are constantly judged in life for a variety of reasons. However, watching this play out each week on TV can make you feel like other’s opinions can make or break you in life. That’s no way to gain or maintain confidence, but it’s certainly a good way to lose it.
6. Reality TV Supports Bad Acting
Let’s face it. The cast members on most reality TV shows could use some work when it comes to acting. They don’t exactly have a script, but the producers tell them what the storyline of each episode will be, and they’re forced to act surprised, angry or congenial depending on the episode. Obviously, it’s all staged. Who wakes up each morning with a full face of makeup on? It’s also true that when you know a camera is on you, you’re bound to do a few things that are out of character, whether you’re overly nervous and don’t talk much, or have the urge to show off. Either way, it’s terrible acting, and people who have actually studied the craft have to work even harder now to get your attention.
5. Reality TV Stars Reveal Too Much
The more scandalous details are revealed on a reality show, the higher the ratings are. This means that many people who are actually family or close friends at the start of the reality show will have their relationships tested severely. No matter how nosey the general public is, or how much we’re being pushed to be a society that knows every detail about celebrities, some things should be kept private. Family matters such as marital issue, illness or child-bearing techniques aren’t anyone else’s business, unless the people involved are in real danger. Also, revealing family secrets usually results in a world of trouble.
4. Reality TV Doesn’t Promote Healthy Conflict Resolution
When reality stars get in (planned) fights during an episode, they very rarely sit down and talk about the issue in a calm and rational manner. That doesn’t make for exciting TV. Instead, there’s yelling, lots of cursing, throwing of various objects and an occasional fist fight. That’s not a good look for anyone, especially if you’re an adult with children. In the real world, if you don’t want your children to act like maniacs when they don’t get their way, they shouldn’t see you behaving that way. Watching these types of occurrences on reality TV tells your brain that it’s OK to get crazy during conflict, which can make the argument way bigger than it actually is.
3. Reality TV Can Change Standards of Beauty
Even though reality shows aren’t technically sitcoms and they’re definitely not movies, there are still hair and makeup people on set to make sure the cast looks their best. Reality stars also get expensive beauty treatments to ensure their skin and hair is flawless when they’re in front of the camera. The average person can’t afford to get a facial that includes rare snake venom or multi-carat diamonds. Therefore, too much reality TV can leave you thinking that you’re not attractive enough and that you’ll never look as great as you want to. Impossible standards of beauty have been around for decades, and reality television doesn’t make it any better.
2. Reality TV Promotes Irresponsible Behavior
Reality television stars are encouraged to do erratic and irresponsible things, because it promotes the show and translates into money for everyone directly involved. However, as a general rule, it’s not advisable to get drunk in public and start a fight with someone, or to attend an event with as little clothing on as possible. Spending insane amounts of money on clothes and cars that you can’t afford isn’t a smart idea either. It’s probably also not a good idea to be especially vulgar or inappropriate around older family members. After all, if you had these types of friends in real life, wouldn’t you be embarrassed by them? Probably so.
1. Reality TV Isn’t Reality
Most of all, it’s important to remember that reality TV isn’t actually reality. The cast members are paid to wear designer clothes, drink way too much champagne, yell at each other for no apparent reason, and behave irrationally. They are paid to show off their lavish houses, use certain brands of technology and appear on the red carpet. It’s their job to entertain you. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this genre of television is referred to as “reality,” and start imitating the behavior of your favorite reality stars. Unless, of course, they’re doing something that will actually benefit society.