Saturday, 12 May 2012

It's Made in Chelsea, not Real in Chelsea

In 1992, reality TV was a novelty. In 2000, it was a fad. In 2010, it's a way of life. What better way to describe reality TV then with Time Magazine’s perfectly worded summary. Welcome to 2012. We are a nation, a world even, consumed with reality TV. From The X Factor to The Only Way is Essex to one of our most recent additions, Made in Chelsea, reality TV has become as commonplace on our TV screens as the news every evening at 6pm sharp. This genre is so fascinating because it has changed the way viewers relate to and interact with the cast of the shows. Yet at the same time this interaction is becomingly dangerously one-sided, with – guess who – the viewers. So what is it about reality TV that has the power to drag us back to the screens even though we may not even like the show itself? Well for starters we humans are natural voyeurs; we are so very curious about these characters and every little detail about their lives. And it’s only become easier to ‘stalk’ the cast with the use of Twitter and other social networking sites. Let’s not be irrational here though, it’s fine to follow them and to talk to them because that’s what they want you to do – to follow, engage and become loyal to their brands. The issue arises when, for example, after Monday’s (07/05) episode of MIC fans loyal to Jamie Laing took to Twitter in their masses to send messages of hate and even death threats to Louise thompson and Spencer Matthews. These problematic and unhealthy relationships on the side of the fans develop primarily due to reality TV having blurred the lines between reality and fiction so deeply. Whilst being hilariously entertaining, these shows distort fact and fiction. If you hadn’t already have guessed it, all forms of reality TV are in fact heavily scripted. Have you ever considered how boring it would be if someone filmed you and your everyday life? These people don’t just consistently ‘randomly’ bump into each other on the streets with a camera by their side; they are set up in such a way to put characters together in uncomfortable situations. But boy does it make for addictive viewing. The point I hope I’ve got at here is that next time you watch these programmes and see X kissing Z when she was supposed to be with Y, just remember – she’s probably with F in real life who has nothing to do with that show. Casts of reality TV shows are real people, they are however effectively actors in the shows.

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