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article imageOp-Ed: The reality TV craze — Why are we so hooked?

By Kevin Fitzgerald     Oct 4, 2011 in Entertainment
Reality television has exploded in popularity over the past decade. People can't seem to get enough of these types of shows. Certain factors may contribute as to why society continues to be fascinated by this cultural phenomenon.
One reason may be that certain reality TV shows give audiences a glimpse into lifestyles which are normally only privy to the rich and famous. Palatial mansions and luxurious indulgences are things most people only dream of, and these treasures can be within a person's view right in the comfort of their own home. A viewer can observe a Beverly Hills shopping spree or a trip to an exotic destination without having to fork over any cash themselves. Reality TV can create a sort of fantasy world.
Shows in this genre can also give the viewer a glimpse into the life of a celebrity (or semi-celebrity). These personalities can become more relatable to the viewer with their seemingly everyday lives being captured on film. Imagine being able to pal around with Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, or witness the breakdown of some other celebrity. Watching one of these types of programs will leave a person feeling closer to a star than ever before.
Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton
Chesi - Fotos CC
Reality TV can also revive the careers of past stars who seem long forgotten. It has certainly helped former big name personalities such as Paula Abdul and Donald Trump. It has even put stars such as Vanilla Ice and Flavor Flav back on the map. Seeing these past icons gives viewers a sense of nostalgia. Plus, people are interested to see if these past celebrities can in fact revive their careers in some capacity.
Paula Abdul at Disney s Hollywood Studios
Paula Abdul at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story, and reality TV certainly knows how to serve up a hearty helping of this. Who doesn't fall in love with a small town kid who has a newly discovered talent that catapults them to stardom? Rooting for the underdog has tugged at the heartstrings of society throughout history, and being able to watch this type of event unfold is certainly a treat fit to behold.
Reality programming can also offer excitement and adventure. Whether it's trekking around the world for a handsome cash prize or just watching a bar fight between two ladies over a comment made about an ugly outfit, reality TV can certainly get the blood racing. The adrenaline rush from watching some of these scenarios can pull the viewer right into the action!
Life is a party, or at least it seems that way when we see these reality stars live it up in some of the hottest nightclubs in town. It's the wish of most people to be able to flee from responsibility and worry while celebrating like there's no tomorrow. From grinding on the dance floor to hot and heavy hookups, seeing this carefree and easygoing lifestyle will leave a viewer wanting more.
Of course, reality TV is not all just about glitz and glamour. Mundane situations such as being a hairdresser or a fry cook can suddenly take on a life of intrigue when they are presented in the reality TV format. Even less than ideal situations such as paying a parking ticket or getting arrested can suddenly become much more lighthearted and interesting when they are seen on television. Many people have experienced these types of events in their own lives, so seeing them unfold on reality TV makes them relatable to the masses.
It seems as though reality TV creates some sort of vortex which allows a person to escape from their own reality and live vicariously in another world while still keeping it "real". It can also provide a perspective of everyday life that leaves the viewer with a better understanding and a greater appreciation of their day to day grind. With the massive ratings it generates, it seems as though reality TV is here to stay, and most people couldn't be happier.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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