The Reality of Reality Shows

The concept of reality shows

Reality television is a television programming genre that displays usually unscripted overdramatic or hilarious situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of trained actors, sometimes in a competition or other circumstances where a prize is awarded. Shows in the Reality TV are called as reality shows that are often produced as series. The people are either engaged in competition with each other or in an awkward situation or spied on in their daily lives. Reality TV is a buzzword of the day. Watching reality shows have become our favourite past time and a source of fun and enjoyment. It is a real program cast with real people not with actors.

Though the term reality television is chiefly used to categories shows that have arisen since the year 2000, the history of reality TV shows goes back farther than we can think. Television has been depicting the lives of people through dating shows, contests and pranks for a very long time. It has a great history which most people didn’t know considering modern reality television and its boom in popularity in recent years. The reality TV show started in the year 1948, Producer-host Allen Funt’s Candid Camera, in which unsuspecting people were drops into funny and unusual situations gets filmed with hidden cameras, was first aired in the year 1948. The show is seen as a prototype of reality television programming.

Different kind of reality shows

There are various types of reality shows that are running on TV. These shows broke the boredom of the traditional scripted shows and started showing the real-life situations. Reality shows cater to different age groups and tastes because of the availability of the wide range of themes. In many reality shows, participants are often placed in exotic locations or in abnormal situations. Some of the reality shows cover a person or a group of people improving their lives. They represent a modified and highly influenced form of reality to attract its viewers. Documentaries and nonfictional shows for example news and sports are not categorized under reality shows.

Some types of reality shows are as written below:

• Documentaries or Documentary Series

Out of all the subgenres of reality TV, the documentary subgenre is possibly the most general one. The core difference between documentaries and a documentary series is that while documentaries are every so often constrained to one episode, documentary series span a series in its entireness, following a series of arc-like scripted television. The subgenre would also cover most social experiment shows, where different kinds of interactions are observed just for the sake of a new experiment.

• Competition or Elimination

Reality programs that are based on a elimination or competition format are just about getting eliminated by the annoying housemate or having the best participant become the winner. They are all about winning something important overcoming your competitors. The competition may be among all the other participants, or against time/money.

• Makeover or Renovation

Same as the name itself says this type of shows either about Makeover of a person’s appearance or make a renovation of your old house.

• Dating

This one is the most significant subgenre of reality TV where the boy meets girl and the audience stick to know ‘will they or won’t they’ aspect of the story.

• Hidden Camera

Starting with Candid Camera, this is possibly the longest-running reality subgenre. It is all about capturing the reactions of innocent people placed in unexpected situations. This subgenre also covers shows which rely on amateur submitted content.

• Supernatural

The most common types of the show in this subgenre are programs that investigate paranormal occurrences. The subgenre also encompasses shows which focus on hunting down famous mythical creatures.

• Travel or Aspirational

Since most audiences can’t afford to travel to the faraway lands for a vacation, many of us settle on enjoying these destinations through this type of travel shows where a person, couple or group goes to a trip and film all of their experiences for the viewers.

Besides all these shows celebrity talk shows or competitions like talent hunt, adventure, game shows or fear-based shows are also mentionable.

Reality Shows in India

The very first reality show of any kind on Indian TV was a quiz contest Titled- Bournvita Quiz Contest. It was hosted by the famous Derek O’Brien in the year 1972. But first, it featured a live show in various cities initially, then went on air as a radio show. In the year 1992, it became the first reality show to be featured on ZEE TV and Indian Television. Then came “Sansui Antakshari” in the year 1993 which was hosted by Annu Kapoor on ZEE TV and It became the first Indian singing reality show that ran till 2006. Came in different versions of Star One and SAB TV with the same host after 2006. ZEE TV made its name to bring about home-grown reality shows rather adapting international reality shows on Indian TV. Singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa came in the year 1995 hosted by the famous singer of Bollywood Sonu Nigam and the dancing reality show that changed the whole scenario of dancing shows Dance India Dance came in the year 2009.

Sony Entertainment Television launched India’s first dance reality show titled- Boogie Woogie it was created by Naved Jaffrey in the year 1996 and hosted and judged by Javed Jaffrey. It was as an immediate hit for the channel. In the year 2000, Star Plus aired “Kaun Banega Crorepati” with Amitabh Bachchan (an adaptation of “Who wants to become a millionaire”) which went on to become India’s favourite and most watched reality show. To give competition ZEE TV launched another game show titled- Sawal Dus Crore Ka and Sony TV launched Jeeto Chappar Phhad Ke but KBC’s popularity didn’t deter; making it the most successful reality show in Indian television. Sony India came up with Indian Idol in 2004 which was an adaptation to the popular international reality show “American Idol”. After its success with grown-ups, they came with kids participants in the show which helped the show to gain love by all.

The production team of Endemol India came up with popular reality show Big Brother’s Indian version of Bigg Boss and Fear Factor on Sony TV in 2006. It became India’s most popular international adapted show after KBC. It was moved to Colors TV making it India’s most watched Hindi Television due to its backing on Bigg Boss, Fear Factor competing with the likes of Star Plus and ZEE TV.

Next revolution reality shows in India came with an adaptation of other famous international shows like The Voice India and So You Think You Can Dance on &TV. These shows changed the concept of singing and dance shows on Indian Television. Other popular reality shows based on foreign shows are like MTV Roadies, India’s Got Talent etc.

The actual reality of reality shows

It’s generally accepted that reality TV is really kind of terrible. What was once considered innovative in the entertainment world, has devolved into unintentional comedies starring the most horrible and awkward people imaginable. Nowadays real is the last thing that strikes you about reality shows. Whether it is a dance show where lesser-known faces of telly world vie for the best dancer tag or the Bigg Boss’s house in which racial slurs and catfights are a part of the process to decide winners, much goes into presenting a reality show as real. There is a vast majority of reality television shows that are not 100 percent real, as there is a high degree of manipulation in order to achieve sustained audience attention.

Results are in reality shows mostly controlled by producers/directors. They want to keep audience believe it is random and unpredictable, to convey this most of the time some candidate is told what to do, how to do. They are even told to behave in certain ways. And in the end nobody will show you all things, things will get edited and aired show may be far from actual reality. Reality Television is a genre more of an exact description of the shows themselves. Producer’s fake shots and even re-stage dramatic moments that happened when the cameras weren’t rolling- pretty much everything is actually plotted and planned out like the normal scripted show. Most of the reality shows still hold a basic level of truth, however, portraying events that really did happen, even if they’re acted again for the cameras. These shows feature people living their lives and doing their jobs, even if a lot has been smoothed out of their day-to-day routine in order to edit out the boring bits.

Most of the talent hunt, singing, dancing even in shows based on general knowledge like “Kaun Banega Crorepati” participants has to go through a long struggle. Most of the time voting is absolutely rigged and the winner gets decided as per his or her capability of keeping TRP’s high. Most of the contestants of the reality shows, especially the winners, might get disappointed soon after their win, the attention shifts to the winner of the next season. The limelight being taken away from them doesn’t agree with many young people. Some contestants might get frustrated as they harbour false hopes that once they win the contest, their future is set for good.

Impact of reality shows on society

New boys & girls who are becoming reality TV celebrity stars does not succeed on talent but use melodrama to always remain in the news. One of the worst effects of their action is on teens who try to emulate their behaviour. All the stunts that are done on these TV shows under organized conditions are copied by the people in reality and resulting in death. Some of the shows where contestants participate to win prizes show them in poor light as they use meanness and greed to outdo each other. The negative traits can manifest themselves in the audiences and create behavioural problems. Liberal doses of abuses are hurled on the shows because the directors think that more and more people will watch them. It is a huge mistake because bad words are caught by teens and kids affecting their personality as well as behaviour. Although kids’ reality shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs, Sabse Bada Kalakaar, Junior Masterchef India and many other shows attract the audiences and gains good ratings, it is not advisable to put children under stressful situations in the early years of their lives! Small children have been forced to participate in reality shows, they have wrenched away from all normal activities and thrown into a single-minded devotion to lending their voices to these reality shows. They are compelled to shoot for long hours, sometimes in scorching hot non-air conditioned rooms. Even Parents also pressurise their children to excel on reality shows, small children become victims of a system that fosters and encourages unrealistic ambitions.

Some reality shows show participants taking extreme risks and putting themselves in bizarre or dangerous situations. Since younger children mostly learn through imitation, watching such programmes may put them at risk of physical injury. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology indicated that children who viewed high-risk TV programmes increased their self-reported risk-taking behaviour significantly more than children who were exposed to low-risk TV or watched less TV. Reality shows that are focussed on some people and their day-to-day lives are a big nuisance and parents need to draw a line when it comes to children watching such shows. They portray everything in an exaggerated manner which is not at all a reflection of real life. This should be made clear to our children. Reality talent shows, on the other hand, make parents feel that their own children are inadequate.

Prevention from the bad effects of reality shows

First, establish that watching reality shows is not a priority in the family. According to the age and understanding of your child, explain what your family belief systems and values are and that they do not match what is shown on reality TV. Help the child understand the impact such programmes can have and that real life is different from what is projected in a reality show. Have discussions about this in a friendly and non-threatening manner.