Reality Television and Appeal, Necessity, and Relaxation:
A College Student’s Guide
Though reality television has been in existence since the 50’s game show “Beat
the Clock”, it is only in the past ten years that it has become a trademark of contemporary
American culture, particularly youth culture. This financially cheap and inherently
dramatic form of television is increasingly attractive, particularly to college students, who
comprise the majority of the reality television viewer population (Lundy, 213). The 17-24
year old demographic most enjoys, relates, and thus views reality television for numerous
reasons: reality programs are a premium source of escape and relaxation, are crucial in
maintaining and creating social bonds, and most importantly, are appealing because 17-
24 year olds may identify, critique, and engage in the programs because the characters
are, in a sense, ordinary people who act in non-scripted, organic ways, just like them.
However, college students (the future of our country) are so enraptured in reality
programs, that this makes a strong statement about our generation.
Viewers absorb and
imitate the actions and trends on reality programs, blurring the line between reality
television and what is actually real. Our generation may be quickly on it’s way to
becoming a startling and deceiving world of makeover shows that breed temporary how-
to’s and fix-its, tawdry docu-soaps that breed dangerous behavior, and unrealistic dating
shows that breed false conceptions of love. They say art imitates life, and though reality
television certainly is not art, it is indefinitely becoming life.