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Great debate: Reality TV fan or do you loathe it?

Lifestyle | Published:

Love it or hate it, reality TV shows are never far from the listings. Do you crave tuning in to Love Island, Big Brother, Dinner Date and X Factor or do you find yourself tuning out? Woman debates the issue. . .

Becci Stanley says reality TV can be a real eye-opener. . .

I would say reality TV is my guilty pleasure – but I’m not ashamed to watch it – and I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t be either. Many self-confessed ‘television snobs’ condemn reality TV, in all of its forms. But how many of these people have actually watched a reality TV show, instead of just scoffing at the mere mention of them?

Their argument is that reality TV is dumbed down for the masses, easy viewing that you can just watch and not pay attention to. They say it is the embodiment of the demise of Western society – showcasing all that is materialistic, self-absorbed and downright wrong with the world.

It’s much more complex than media elitists would have you believe, offering viewers the chance to observe real life human behaviour in a variety of situations. Reality TV offers us a unique insight into marginalised sections of society that we may never encounter. Shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race have brought underground drag culture into the public eye, teaching viewers all about the struggles the LGBT community have faced.

The judging panel on RuPaul's Drag Race

From a happy ending to a bump back down to Earth – reality TV can also act as a harsh reminder that life does have its hardships, and we should be ever-aware of this. Shows such as Ross Kemp: Extreme World give a harrowing account of the devastating effects of the drug trade, gang culture, poverty and terrorism.

Reality TV can teach us valuable life lessons and equip us with the skills to deal with them, without having to experience them first-hand. Shows such as 16 and Pregnant give a realistic account of the hardships teen mothers face when flung into motherhood, when they are still children themselves.

The uses and gratifications theory deduces that people consume media for different reasons – one of these being that some people identify with the characters within the shows, and learn to navigate through their own lives because of this. Reality TV brings REAL people, REAL issues and REAL answers right to the comfort of your own home.

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Ross Kemp: Extreme World

If people didn’t watch these shows there wouldn’t be any, so what is wrong with giving the audience what they want? The surge of reality shows that constantly aim to tackle original topics has saved television channels that would have otherwise crumbled under the weight of predictable and stale fictional series that inundate the market.

Reality TV aims to educate via entertainment – and who doesn’t love to be entertained?

Kirsten Rawlins says no way to such pointless TV. . .

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When it comes to shows such as Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea, I truly believe these programmes cheapen TV. They are plastic, materialistic and fashion-obsessed – and each and every one of these so-called ‘stars’ earns more every year than many could hope to make in a lifetime. And yet, people feel connected to these upper-class ‘airheads’ – when, in fact, they have nothing in common with the average person at all. If anything, these so-called celebrities are a bad example to society – let’s not forget how Kim Kardashian’s name even got in the media. Hmmm a sex tape and as a stylist and friend to fellow z-lister Paris Hilton.

Keeping up With The Kardashians

Shows such as Naked Attraction and Love Island are even worse. Seedy, crude and senseless. What kind of example does that set for future generations? Naked Attraction, in particular, is practically pornographic and perhaps shouldn’t be on our screens. If you want to watch that kind of thing, there are plenty of websites out there.

Then we have the horrendous ‘talent’ show TV programmes such as X Factor, run by music dictator – sorry, mogul – Simon Cowell. These shows are themselves responsible for turning much of the music industry into order-following robots with no minds of their own. There is nothing unique about the songs churned out by these ‘contests’ – and most cannot even think for themselves, being pushed together as a group, fed lyrics and auto-tuned in the studio. Some of the acts have even been criticised for miming on the show. . . Most singer-songwriters have more talent in their little finger than these cardboard cut-outs.

And despite the fact these shows are put under the ‘reality TV’ bracket, so many scenes are blatantly scripted – or at least edited and influenced – meaning they are basically fiction. Boring, mind-numbing fiction at that. Give me Dexter or Game Of Thrones over Judge Judy or Big Brother any day.

The Jeremy Kyle Show

Though shows such as Jeremy Kyle claim to ‘bring families together’, these shows are possibly up there with the very worst on TV. Who wants to watch a bunch of unemployed, cavity-riddled cheats, drug takers and heavy drinkers scream and swear at each other, threatening to harm one another, only to be berated and shouted at by an arrogant host for the best part of an hour? You can count me out.

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