Reality Shows: Is the End Near?

Published 10 years ago by

Can we be nearing the end of the Reality TV show era? Some recent newcomers have come and (thankfully) gone quickly, and even Mark Burnett’s golden touch can’t seem to give The Contender big numbers. In an attempt to lure back viewers who are burnt out on mean-spirited, backstabbing behavior, CBS has a bunch of “kinder, gentler” reality shows slated for next season no doubt spurred on by the success of ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover.

Using myself as a barometer of the average viewer (hey, it’s my website, I can do whatever I want), I would say the public has reached saturation as far as reality TV is concerned. I’m not a voracious viewer of reality TV… I don’t watch Fear Factor, America’s Next Top Model, or Big Brother. I have tuned in to one season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but that was enough for me. Being a fitness buff and really annoyed at the state of obesity in the U.S., I did tune into The Biggest Loser. It was unnecessarily cheesy and the supposed drama too drawn out, but I loved seeing the changes these folks made to their lives. I even watched Wife Swap this season because it did my heart good to see the children in some of these families benefit from the exchange.

However, I’ve hit Reality TV Burnout™. I’ve been a loyal fan of Survivor since Season 2, but I think this current season is the last one for me. The first couple of seasons were fairly real, about surviving, and of course, the million dollars. But since then it’s become about the notoriety (at least for a hefty percentage of the contestants) plus it’s gotten WAY repetitive. It seems that early on the staff psychologists (or Burnett, whoever) hit on a formula for a specific combination of ages, genders, and personalities that would generate the right amount of conflict and side-taking.

It’s gotten old. You can take any season and interchange the contestants. It’s like the cast of a TV show or stage play where you plug different actors into specific roles. There’s only so much “drama” you can drum up to keep things different. This season’s “shocking opener” involved having two extra contestants… that lasted all of one episode. Oooohhh, that was exciting.

I really enjoyed the concept of The Apprentice as well, but even that’s getting old.

I don’t think I’m alone, and I have a feeling that next season will be the last hurrah for this genre. Sure, there will be a couple of survivors (cough), but I think the trend is going to be back to scripted television.

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5 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. Wow, you even threw in a trademark symbol. Good for you! 😛

    I totally agree; I even posted a similar rant last year. The only reality show I was watching on a regular basis was The Apprentice, and I’m not even watching that anymore. Times, they are a’changin’, whether Burnett likes it or not…

    Hopefully we can go back to the days of quality sitcoms. I haven’t seen one of those in years…


  2. I pray to God you are right. But to tell you the truth, ALL reality shows have an element that I don’t care for, even the new house one…
    My reaction to them can best be summed up in an image from The Dark Crystal where those creatures sucked the life force out of their victims. In either case, backstabbing or “change my whole life by giving me a new house, face, teeth, body, job, partner”….The producers are STILL sucking emotions and exploiting them for money.
    I think there should be a real division between real life and TV “life”. I am reminded of that old tv series… I think it was called The Millionaire… where the guy handed over a million dollar check to various and sundry people and we got to find out what happened to them….. using FICTION.
    I could go on and on. I must be turning into an old codger.


  3. In total agreement with you, Vic, and the postees. Reality TV has had its good times, and a good time for everyone it has been, even for those who don’t care for it. Something to rant about, no? The fad is over…. way over these producers greedy minds that they’re losing touch with their audience. Even if television moves toward scripted shows, I think there needs to be a balance to how this will undertake. Life in itself is really crazy with the speed of things. How will these producers, that’s if they care about their audience’s well being, construct shows with more meaning as well as keeping it interesting, exciting, and mindful, possibly to fit in a moral or two into a show?