When given the term “reality tv” people often assume dramatic, usually scripted and poor quality entertainment, myself included. However, this can be reversed in ways of thinking of the steps involved in making informative and relatable programs given air-time. It’s important to consider that reality TV has grown to 15.5% viewing preference(Nielson, 2011), only behind Drama and sports programming.
A point I’d like to include is the inclusive nature of reality television programs in particular the LGBT community. Detailed in Andy Dehnart’s Tedx talk, 28% of broadcast prime-time TV and 22% of advertising dollars includes some presence of these accepted sexual orientation. He details programs such as The American Family, broadcast in 1973, as the first real inroad for LGBT implications on screen as one of the characters identifies as being gay within the series.
Perhaps this changed the way program producers thought about reality television and how they could start being more inclusive with a growing demographic. Shows today such as Modern Family, I believe could be linked to this movement of a TV show based on a real life family living in contemporary society that allow the inclusion of a gay couple that have decided to adopt a child, which at the moment is a political debate about the rights these people have. Being able to draw connections was another concept addressed, and this can be applied to this area of inclusion as empathy can be showcased to the likable nature of the characters on screen that are associated with the LGBT community, people are able to liken and see potential in characteristics of peoples lifestyle choice to inspire and create bonds.
From these inroads in television demographic, we can see a variety in current shows
Reality tv shows are said to offer the “peak” of realism, which is why I believe the genre is so popular around the world. If audiences can take time out of their days and view content that perhaps would resonate well with them and can escape to a attitude of “in a perfect world”. Whether or not this is a reality show showcasing grand designs of homes such as “The Block” or a particular skillset for example “X-Factor” or “Australia’s Got Talent”
I’d like to take a turn into what reality TV looks like now, and perhaps the trajectory of the genre. Vlogging or ‘Video Blogging’ are an increasing trend whereby ‘vloggers’ take their audience in a “day in the life” video filming the highlight points from throughout the day. This footage can then normally be uploaded online free of cost. Now, the demographic or culture or any other gate keeping restriction is gone with YouTube not caring what you look like or sexual orientation is, your raw content can be showcased and often audiences are drawn to that, reflecting the views of contemporary media enthusiasts. Thus “YouTube is being used by the media industries, by audiences and amateur producers, and by particular communities of interest, and the ways in which these uses challenge existing ideas about cultural ‘production’ and ‘consumption’.”(J Burgess, J Green 2013)
“First person/Vlogging is the evolution of Reality TV. Its more honest, more truthful, more real than anything that pre-dates it on television”- Casey Neistat winning the 2016 First Person award
Moran, A., 2009. TV formats worldwide: localizing global programs. Intellect books. [Chapters 10 and 16]
J Burgess, J Green 2013, ,YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture
Digital Media and Society, John Wiley & Sons, 184 Pages, Available at <