The popularity of trash TV

Aoife O'Brien

The rise in the popularity of reality TV in recent years is one that has gripped audiences from ages six to sixty and appeals to the office secretary and university professors alike.

But what is it about this ‘trashy’ TV that has gripped our generation? 

With the never-ending saga of Brexit, Donald Trump’s laughter inducing presidency and our own government still failing the country miserably, reality television such as “Love Island”, “Keeping up with the Kardashians” (KUWTK) and “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” gives us a period of glorious escapism where literally nothing else matters other than the petty drama of those on screen. 

They almost resemble being in school or university and so they provide us with endless gossip that is less depressing than the pressing issues in society. 

You’ll have one couple falling so head over heels for each other that they are declaring their love and planning their future house and kids within five days of meeting each other. 

Then the strongest most solid friendship, that was also formed in those five days, will collapse because actually the other girl in your group liked him first.

While the drama on screen often seems laughable the scenarios we see are all things that we have either experienced or witnessed to some extent in our own lives. 

Therefore despite the extremely different circumstances we can often relate to reality TV stars and understand another point of view without the hostility or division it might take to reach this understanding in our own lives.

In other words, we learn through watching the cast on screen.

These shows also allow us to live our insane perfectionist fantasies.

Reality TV stars often appear to have the time and money that allows them to pursue all of their interests and hobbies without limitations.

While our own dreams and fantasies might be very much achievable in our lives watching these shows provides us  an escape route. 

This allows us to envisage all the dreams we might pursue if we had the same resources like getting revenge body like Khloe Kardashian or creating a beauty empire like Kendall Jenner.

With reality shows where a level of competition is involved there is an added appeal due to audience control.

If you decide you really dislike a contestant on “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” then you can vote for him to eat a kangaroo’s anus. It’s a strange sort of satisfaction in where it can otherwise be difficult to have any sort of personal control over punishing wrong doers.

Love them or hate them, the popularity of reality TV means that many producers are purposely making bad shows to appeal to a certain type of viewer. And with the popularity of reality TV heading in one direction, viewers can expect to see more of these shows hitting their screen in months to come.

Aoife O’Brien

Image Credit: ITV