Reality TV Has Always Existed

It seems like everyone wants reality television to run its course and get off their television sets. The truth is that’s never going to happen. Reality TV is here to stay. Since the late 1940s, it’s existed in one form or another and many of the first reality shows were adapted from radio. For example, Candid Camera started as Candid Microphone. While it may seem quaint now, Candid Camera basically had the audience spying on people who were put in uncomfortable situations without being in on the joke.

Even though Candid Camera still seems tame, Queen for a Day, which also started on radio and aired on TV from 1956 to 1964, is shocking by modern standards. The host would force housewives to recount all the misery in their lives, many broke down and cried, so that they could potentially win whatever they needed. Whoever the audience determined had the most tragic story would get help, everyone else was sent home without so much as fare for the bus.

Regardless of what you think of The Amazing Race, Big Brother, The Real World, or whatever the shocking new show probably coming out next week, at least, we no longer consider Queen for a Day‘s cruelty to be a valid form of entertainment. Everyone on the Bachelor, Jersey Shore, or The Real Housewives of Insert City Name is there to advance their career or for some other reason the contestants themselves have come up with to justify having cameras follow them around for months.

Throughout the years, both broadcast and cable networks have aired reality shows that have run the gamut from competition shows, such as Star Search, American Idol, and Survivor, to documentary style shows, like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. While the popularity of American Idol and the X Factor is waning, other reality shows are pulling in millions of viewers. The average episode of The Voice pulls in around 14 million viewers and over 11 million viewers tuned in for Duck Dynasty‘s season 4 premiere, which is on cable and makes the feat even more impressive.

Reality TV isn’t going anywhere. Just like any other genre, it’s constantly evolving for better or for worse. As soon as one genre of show that falls loosely in the category of reality television loses popularity, someone comes along and creates a new variation on the reality TV formula that gains popularity.

About Allison Lips

I am the editor and founder of "Wait! What's a Dial?". I graduated from Rowan University with degrees in both Radio/TV/Film and Journalism.

Posted on October 13, 2013, in Op-Ed, Reality TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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