Where does our fascination with reality shows lead?

Ensuing the incessant era of soap operas, reality shows have emerged out as widely held television shows amongst the viewers. For fairly a long time, reality shows have been in operation either in the layouts of dancing, singing or other talent evidencing shows. However, most profoundly, reality shows have taken the hoist after the success of Big Brother — a television reality game show. It is centered on an originally Dutch TV series of the same name created by producer John de Mol in 1997. The series commenced on July 5, 2000, to an effectual start.

As the approval of the Big Brother show has grown by leaps and bounds, many national and regional television show producers got enticed to the format of the show. The never beforebuzz created by the reality shows that mushroomed in the big brother concept has been remarkable.

As it is evident through various analyses, the contemporary reality shows rely on showcasing melodrama, either to be in news or to acquire highest TRP ratings. As usual the media conglomerates, whose main focus is to make more profits out of their shows, never bother about the ill effects of these reality shows. Predominantly, the worst effects are seen in teens who seek to vie with their behavior. Without ever realizing the reality behind the shows they watch on the television screen, the amateur teens imitate those performances to achieve nothing more than angst.

Some of the reality shows are meanderingly shattering the talents of the students. In a recent episode of one of the reality shows, as part of their task, few questions were posed to the participants. The so-called celebrities could not even answer such simple questions as the highest civilian award in India. Such let-downs from popular figures would yield negative traits among all the audiences in general, and children in particular. Thus, they construct behavioral problems for the reason that children tend to draw inspiration from their role models. Even their anti-climaxes become a sort of inducement to the masses, as found in many studies.

If we clearly examine the reality shows (per se not considering the singing and dancing shows), most of them are provocative due to the sensationalism created by these shows. Of course, there is always a possibility of the flip side of my viewpoint. However, as most people would admit, these shows of reality gyrate around competitions or the lives of the most celebrated personalities. The very purpose is to entertain the people. Of course, entertainment is implored. However, that entertainment should educate as well. Having said so, I would like to talk about the E-E concept. The Educational Entertainment is the means aimed to educate through entertainment. Every so often it includes content intended to teach but has incidental entertainment value.

Whether or not there is some good in the reality shows, it’s a proven fact that abundant doses of abuses are hurled on these reality shows. In all probabilities, the program makers think that such actions would popularise their shows, which ultimately make their show top on TRPs. For me, it’s not success rather a great defeat, morally!

As mentioned previously, the effect of these shows is more on children than any other programmes for the reason that the reality shows construe the real-life situations, whose impact is obviously colossal. It is very true to have a debate on this issue that the reality shows being discussed herewith might not be intended for the watching of children. However, in the present nuclear set-up of families, even without any intention, the children may get exposed to these shows — resulting in these children being mislead. It is quite common that children who watch these shows can habitually be perplexed at the display and can take them as behavior expected out everyone — especially themselves and their peers.

Despite the fact that there are many disadvantages of watching certain reality shows on television by the children, there are equal advantages too. For example, it is not an hyperbole to say that many children start learning music, dance, and various other fine arts, drawing inspiration from these reality shows. This is nothing but the entertainment-education!

–   Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi