How reality TV adapted to the pandemic

Tara McGahan

While people are at home watching television more than ever in the last number of months, reality TV has had to take a knock due to coronavirus restrictions.

Reality TV relies on the drama that social interaction brings, however the act of social distancing has hindered any events like this happening.

Some television shows have simply had to stop filming and miss out on a series. However, some shows have made adjustments and are still finding it possible to film.

When thinking of reality TV shows, ‘Love Island’ jumps to mind for a huge number of people. This is no surprise as the TV programme has grown massively in popularity over the last number of years.

The UK.version of the show sees a group of single boys and girls enter a holiday villa in sunny Spain and spend weeks trying to form a connection with other islanders. The show also added a spin off in January 2020, hosting a ‘Winter Love Island’ in South Africa.

After Covid-19 caused a global pandemic, it was quite clear that shows like this which rely on social interaction would not be going ahead in the Summer. However, ‘Love Island USA’ had different plans last year and they postponed their planned schedule in May to commence filming their show in August 2020.

Instead of filming the show in the usual luxury Fiji villa, the show took place on a hotel rooftop in Las Vegas to avoid travelling out of the country. The islanders completed a quarantine and took multiple Covid-19 tests before entering the villa which allowed the show to take place safely.

Many other reality TV shows, like ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ have had to make adjustments in order to keep filming. The Kardashian family made the decision to push forward with filming.

Kim Kardashian West told Jimmy Fallon on a video call on ‘The Tonight Show: At Home Edition’ that the family were filming it themselves.

The executive producer of the show, Farnaz Farjam, told ‘Elle’ that a showrunner collects the iPhone and drops off a brand new smartphone to the family each week in order to start a new cycle of filming.

With some shows taking extraordinary measures to keep up with filming, it is safer for others to cease filming until restrictions allow reality TV to go back to some sense of normality. There is no telling when this can happen, but reality TV as we know it could be changed for quite some time.

In the meantime, reality shows from previous years are widely available on different streaming platforms and are sure to pass some time until normality can resume again.

Tara McGahan.

Image Credit: I’m a Celeb ITV