Playing to the Cameras: When Reality TV Stops Being Real

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My love affair with reality television is slowly coming to an end. The quest for fame and orchestrated publicity stunts have taken over the once seemingly authentic genre. The novelty of this guilty pleasure is finally wearing off like the red paint on the sole of a pricey pair of stilettos. I guess all good things must come to an end – right?

One of the things that endear viewers to reality TV is the basic premise that what they’re watching is REAL. However, have you ever gotten a sneaking suspicion that you’re actually viewing a scripted series with actors, writers and someone yelling “Action!” or “Cut!”? I don’t know about you, but once I figure out reality stars are acting, once it becomes obvious they’re making up story lines to stay relevant on a show, once it’s clear they’re willing to do ANY and EVERYthing to stay in the spotlight – I’m out. It’s no fun watching someone sell their soul.

Here’s what’s interesting…The suspicion of scripts, plots and story lines doesn’t become obvious until seasons 2 or 3. The first season of any successful reality series seems to be the most genuine. Season 1 is typically fun, reasonably dramatic and filled with good humor; but, something interesting happens by the time season 2 rolls around. The stars are now famous – maybe even household names with coined one-liner phrases and high-paid club and event appearances. They feel the ratings pressure to up the ante and then Pandora’s box is pushed wide open. Now, enter the cheating scandals, “accidentally” leaked sex tapes, pregnancies planned for TV, and cat fight brawls for the cameras. Many times all this drama coincidentally coincides with the season premiere or season finale of the show…hmmm. We can’t possibly be THAT gullible as viewers – are we?

This, of course, isn’t the case for every reality show on TV. There are some that still try to maintain a sense of authenticity. Times like this make me miss the first season of MTV’s Real World back in the 90’s – sheesh!

What do you think of the current state of reality television?