Reality television has become a staple television genre for many people around the world.
We love to watch other peoples experiences for a number of different reasons. It is the ultimate form of escapism, but somewhere along the way we’ve lost the true essence of reality. Situations are manipulated to exaggerate reactions and emotions, enticing the viewer to watch more – even if all realism is lost in the process.
The shows may be entertaining for a short while but eventually, one must question the authenticity of these programmes and re-evaluate what we’re doing watching them. The X-Factor is a prime example of how unauthentic reality shows have become. Every year they’re looking for ‘something different’ – something which the shows rarely delivers..
A sob story is not part and parcel with the audition process. An out-of-tune but ’emotional’ performance of a Whitney Houston song follows. Cheryl cries: they sail through to boot camp. Change the record, Simon – we have seen it all before.
It’s gotten to a stage where the show no longer genuinely auditions people. Instead, producers scout for potential talent prior to the show, before inviting them to audition.
It’s also important to remember that the episodes and auditioned are highly edited, either to show off the best or the worst in a contestant. More air time is given to the contestants who the producers feel have the potential to make the show money.
The predictability of what type of contestants we know we’re going to see has become monotonous – not to mention the emphasis placed on the judges and their relationships with each other, something which shouldn’t be relevant if its ‘all about the talent’. In the past during live shows, they’ve played up to the cameras, sparking controversy to promote the show, as well as further their own careers.
The entertainment value has plunged over the years because history has repeated itself. This simulated stardom that reigns supreme burns out and the more deserving winner disappears. This inventive behaviour creates attention that fades away after their first single release – Ben Hae-‘where are you’-Now?
Past contestants have gone on to forge successful careers – often the ones that did not win the show in the first place, (see Olly Murs, Rylan Clarke). The X-Factor is a huge platform to propel yourself into the media but it in no way produces successful popstars or musicians.
If The X-Factor allowed us to see more than their scripted VT’s before their live show performances, stronger connections could be made with the contestants. This is where Big Brother succeeds – allowing us to see more than a media persona necessarily – because we can track their words and actions 24/7.
That being said, Big Brother isn’t touted as a talent show. All you need is luck to enter this infamous house. After sixteen years, viewers have seen a multitude of personalities, but most have had no staying power in the media.
Big Brother auditions a selection of people, but with every year they know exactly who they want. Previous series have depicted aspiring models, actors, journalists, singers, while others have shown people who work average jobs.
With contestants being cherry-picked by producers, it’s not entirely authentic. That being said, it’s a lot more ‘real’ than other reality shows.
Take MTV’s Ex On The Beach and Geordie Shore, both of which pull huge numbers of viewers. Shows like this take breaks from filming midway through production, meaning participants aren’t cut off from the outside world.
Big Brother has produced memorable characters such as the late Jade Goodie, Nicky Grahame and most recently 2014’s winner Helen Wood. Contestants like the ones mentioned showed that allowing actual reality into reality television is the way forward. More authentic shows allow us to form better connections with the contestants and improve our overall enjoyment of the show.
Many contestants have come and gone, such as series nine winner Rachel Rice, She won because she was nice and lived on the fence. This years winner Chloe Wilburn will most likely do what she did in the house – disappear into the background. Both are winners – just ones with no lasting impact.
Big Brother, like The X-Factor is only a platform for reality stars. They cannot create long lasting careers because once their series ends, that’s it. The stars need to forge careers away from their shows or either stay on our screens within that show.
Although Geordie Shore lacks authenticity with regards to how they film the show, the characters are successful in their own right. They’re popular because the show grows and evolves with time: the mantra stays the same, but we see character development.
Character development and time are key to a reality show being authentic and enjoyable – it adds to our emotional attachment to the show. We invest our time in the same people, doing slightly different things, with the same people but it works better than a fresh cast of people annually.