Why we can’t look away from Reality TV

Unwrapping our “so-bad-it's-good” attitude with America’s favorite guilty pleasure

By: Claire Redell


Reality TV—it is something that has been slandered relentlessly by our elders while simultaneously embraced by the younger generation. Even some of our parents are notorious for assuming a holier-than-thou attitude as they roll their eyes at “Jersey Shore” while concurrently raising their glasses to the latest episode of “The Bachelor.” The latter of the two has garnered so much attention that it has introduced terms like “rose ceremony” and “fantasy suite” into our everyday vernacular. 


Through the evolution of unscripted entertainment, the question of why we so readily consume it remains unanswered. Many attribute our unwavering devotion to its ability to fulfil people’s fantasies or take our minds off of daily stressors. For many, the high-brow way of life depicted in shows such as “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” or “Chrisley Knows Best” is so exotic that the burdens in our own lives seem to fade away, even if just for a moment. 


the truth about reality tv.png

On the opposite end of the spectrum, viewers can find comedic relief or even a sense of superiority by observing the unexpected and occasionally shameful actions of cast members. Series like “Jersey Shore,” “Toddlers & Tiaras,” and “Duck Dynasty” have all proven to be some of the most divisive yet arguably profitable series of our generation due to the depiction of their unconventional ways of life. 


Reality TV shows have unified both casual and insatiable consumers of pop-culture for years and likely will continue to do so. Whether or not someone is a devout viewer of Reality TV, it’s unlikely that they can move through life avoiding it entirely. For vehement opponents of the genre, it’s doubtful that their prayers for its extinction will be answered anytime soon.

Wake Mag