The reality of reality television

Screen shot 2016-03-10 at 2.00.15 PMBy Lizbeth Trujillo

Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” is currently one in a big list of many successful reality television shows.

Currently on its fifth season, the popular show features a man and a woman who find themselves in the middle of nowhere and must endure drastic weather conditions. Each duo lacks the essential resources for survival such as food, water, and clothes. Their objective is to survive for 21 days with only a single personal item which varies depending on the participant’s desire.  If they do survive in these harsh conditions, they ultimately gain a major sense of accomplishment as a reward.

With its perfect combination of survival and reality, it is easy  to recognize that “Naked and Afraid” has remained popular because people love competition. Furthermore, viewers love seeing naked strangers attempting to remain alive as it often leads to arguments and overall drama, an element that is typical of reality shows.

Usually, survival shows cater towards a male audience due to their focus on strength, while reality shows are more widely associated with a predominantly female audience, likely because they often involve drama, an ideal that society has long associated with females rather than males. However, contradictory to the stereotype, “Naked and Afraid” offers a unique experience appeals to both men and women. The perfectly appealing balance of femininity, masculinity, and nudity attracts new viewers every week as the three concepts are combined as they never have been before.

It is more than obvious that Americans are becoming increasingly hooked on reality television. Reality television is unavoidable in today’s pop culture dominated world. Normally, when asked why they watch reality television, people confess that they do so in order to have something interesting to talk about with their peers, friends, and coworkers. They want to avoid being classified as culturally unaware of popular trends around them. However, according to PsychologyToday.com, studies have proved otherwise. In reality, both viewers and non-viewers of reality TV generally score the same on sociability, and the enjoyment they find within intellectual activities.

Additionally, those who are competitive or those who like the concept of revenge may  enjoy certain reality shows such as “Survivor” or “The Bachelor,” as they are very competition based.

From a psychological standpoint, however, regular viewers of reality shows such as “Naked and Afraid,” ”Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and “The Bachelor” are all likely to desire status. In other words, people who are attracted to reality television watch these specific shows in order to feel like they are involved in the grand scheme of popular culture, and are therefore important in society. Regular viewers of reality TV are likely to agree with statements such as “prestige is important to me,” which reveals that the desire for status is a means to receive attention from others. With attention comes a sense of self-importance, something we all ultimately need in order to build our self-confidence.

Overall, reality shows give ordinary people hope that one day they will also have the opportunity to gain automatic fame and status, just like the participants on these shows often have.

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Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper

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