Finding Comfort in Reality TV


Joy Herrera, Staff Writer

From The Amazing Race to America’s Next Top Model, America is addicted to reality TV. During this time of extreme stress and turmoil in our country, millions are turning to the comfort of voyeuristic competition.

According to Psychology Today, reality TV has risen in popularity because it allows viewers to enjoy escapism with low stakes. The scripted nature of most shows and the everyday scenarios are comforting for people to view. Furthermore, they also subconsciously allow viewers to fantasize about acquiring fame through normal means. Reality TV predominantly showcases normal people who must endure challenges which are not outside the realm of possibility. This makes the shows much more relatable and plausible for the viewer to imagine themself succeeding in the same scenario.

Too much of a good thing can be harmful for anything, but in moderation reality TV can allow the viewer to escape reality, destress, and even potentially find inspiration to push past their comfort zone. 

A senior at AHS, Nicole Zamani said, “Reality TV caused me to reevaluate my life. A recent episode of Wife Swap… caused me to reevaluate how much time I spend with my family, how I am eating, and when to take a break because it is necessary for my mental well-being.” 

Although Nicole admits that she can find the show vapid at times, it has also offered her a welcome break from college applications and even inspired her to step outside her comfort zone. She shared that it fascinates her to see the wide variety of lifestyles across America. The lens of reality TV may be filtered heavily but it does allow viewers to glimpse into foreign lives and lifestyles in a more palatable and entertaining way than most documentaries. 

Another key reason people watch reality TV is to see people who excel in their chosen field. The Great British Bake Off, a BBC Original turned Netflix production showcases a group of amateur bakers from across England. These bakers undergo various challenges from baking a cake from an incredibly vague recipe to creating a show stopping masterpiece entirely out of cookies in just three hours. The show’s popularity in Great Britain and abroad are testament to the fascination that viewers can have with seeing people push themselves to their limit for their craft. The popularity of the show also has had corresponding effects to the interest in baking throughout the country. 

Reality TV can showcase harmful behaviors but part of moderating a fulfilling media experience is the ability to analyze media with a critical eye. The downsides of reality TV are very real but by examining our biases we can find ways to enjoy the true gems in the genre and enjoy this category without shame. 


Photo courtesy of PINTEREST.COM