Real TV – A Background Check on the Boom of Reality Shows

Dorian Whitmore

Recently, television program has taken a turnover from the usual tear-jerking drama epics to the biting trials in reality shows. It’s the new age of programming as real life drama takes center stage catching the attention of billions of viewers around the world.

Reality television, as it is most commonly known, has called out to millions of ordinary people from different walks of life, to participate in their program set-up. The so-called set up for a reality show has gone from quiz formats to surveillance camera utilization productions like that of Big Brother. It has given a spectacle and controversy with every take and every comment ever said by the participants as well as the judges or host, giving the viewers a guide to take their favorites and have their own say. Their unscripted say and actions has given light to the entertainment of every person facing their television sets.

If we were to do a background check on these shows, we can see that these have not just popped into the scene and have made sensation among the population just recently. There were already reality television shows as early as the 1940’s with the debut of Allen Funt’s Candid Camera, a follow-up stunt from his previous radio show Candid Microphone. The said show is considered as the “granddaddy of the reality TV genre.”

Talent shows also evolved during this decade. Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour and Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts featured amateur contestants while letting viewers vote on their pick for a winner.

The 1950’s was the era for game shows. Beat the Clock and Truth or Consequence donned their way to every home in America with their wacky games and jokes. But other than that another talent show reigned supreme that up until this day it has made its mark in the face of American television-Miss America Pageant. The battle of beauties and brains had its first broadcast in 1957.

An American Family, a reality show on a nuclear family on their divorce is said to have been the first reality show to carry the modernity. The show is a 12 part PBS documentary series which was first aired in 1973. A counterpart of this show was done in the UK in 1974 entitled The Family. It follows a background check on a working class family-the Wilkins of Reading. Soon after these shows’ hit success, other modern reality shows followed up. Such shows represent coupling up or are already couples; The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game.

It was the present era-year 2000-that reality television made a big boom with its increased popularity globally. Survivor and American Idol became skyrocketing hits as both became top-rated series in American Television. In every season, American Idol has topped the ratings sending not only the whole nation on a craze, but around the world as well.

There are other shows that also became world wide hits: The Amazing Race has made a wave as and an Asian franchise also evolved after it continuous success. Americas Next Top Model and Project Runaway made young girls and talented designers a leeway to be known. Big Brother made a big wave on every home as they set the scenes for life lessons as only presented by those isolated inside the house.

At present there are only two television channels that focus only on reality shows. For the United States, Fox Reality was launched in 2005 while UK launched earlier with Zone Reality during 2002.

Teens nowadays are hung up on true to life reality dramas that are set on the high end lives of the rich and the fabulous like Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and its follow up the Hills. Both of these shows are presented on MTV.

Whether the spectacle of seeing things happen right in front of your eyes without scripts and stuffs, that makes it all fake, may have been the key to get people watching reality shows continuously. But there is one fact that lies even behind the cameras-these are the lessons that each may learn from these real life situations as we see them happen.

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