“This is the story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped , to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.”You probably recognized this as the opening statement for what people call the pioneer of the genre of radio television, MTV’s “The Real World.” The show, which is coming up on its 21st season in January, started what we know today as reality TV. Recently there has been a massive trend in the countless amount of reality shows currently on the air. They are all relatively about the same topics, just with little twists to make the show unique. This is especially prevalent in the series of romance shows on VH1 which started with “The Surreal Life.” That was a show based on the structure of “The Real World” except instead of seven ordinary strangers the cast consisted of seven has-been celebrities living in a mansion for a period of two weeks. The show went on for six seasons and produced spin-offs that helped to generate the “celebreality” boom that we are witnessing today .
The first two spin-offs dealt with love between cast members that was ignited on the show. “My Fair Brady” was about the love life of “Surreal Life” cast members Adrienne Curry of “America’s Next Top Model” fame and Christopher “Peter Brady” Knight. There was also a program in 2005 called “Strange Love” which documented the relationship of actress Brigitte Nielsen and rapper Flavor Flav.It was because of this program that the reality television genre on VH1 exploded. After Flavor Flav’s relationship with Nielsen ended in 2006 he starred in a new reality show called “Flavor of Love.” The focused on Flav inviting a series of ladies to live in a mansion and compete in various challenges to win his love. The show went on for 3 seasons before he threw in the towel. Many other television shows with the same premise have branched out of “Flavor of Love.” First there was “I Love New York,” starring former “Flavor of Love” contestant, Tiffany “New York ” Pollard. Also “Rock of Love” starring ex-Poison front-man Bret Michaels. In 2008 Real and Chance, former contestants of “I Love New York,” also got their own show. Also in 2008 VH1 decided to combine the former contestants for a new reality competition show called “I Love Money” where they competed in a series of physical challenges with the goal of winning $250,000, much like the “Real World / Road Rules Challenges” that had been airing on MTV for years.
Despite the similarities between all of these reality shows many people love to watch them. “I think it is because people care more about other people’s lives than their own,” second-year student Alex Schubert said.
It is true as a society there seems to be an obsession with celebrity culture and lavish lifestyle. Also, these shows always seems to have a villainous persona that generates a lot of conflict that makes the program worth watching week after week.
Society seems like it wants more reality TV with every new show that comes along. So it is predicted that this genre will not die out for a long while and will continue to evolve in the coming years.
Sam Greenberg is a second-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at SG655862@wcupa.edu.