• Wed, 27, Jun, 2018 - 5:00:AM

In defence of reality TV

The way some people talk about reality TV, you’d think it was a symptom of everything wrong with modern society. People who watch it are narcissists. It encourages negative behaviour. The shows are made for idiots. We need to get rid of it because some people do not like it.

And sure, reality TV can be problematic as hell (for example: the first episode of Heartbreak Island or the entire premise of The Bachelor). It’s trashy and mindless and creates drama where there really is none. But it’s fun to watch. I genuinely enjoy being able to sit down with friends and laugh at people who are much more attractive than me as they play mind games with each other on Heartbreak Island or become attached to some low-level kiwi celebrities and their ballroom dancing skills on Dancing With the Stars. Is there really anything wrong with that?

If you don’t like reality TV, this is not an invitation to preach from your moral high horse. I get that you don’t like it. But people don’t have to share your opinion. You are not objectively correct in thinking that reality TV is not ‘good’ entertainment. Whatever criticism you throw at reality TV does not give you the right to decide what other people watch.

You can complain all you want about how reality TV is rotting our brains and destroying our culture, but let the record show that I sat through hours of terrible screen time for no reason other than entertainment. The fact that the TV I watched was reality TV does not make it any less valuable than watching good TV shows Game of Thrones or The Handmaid’s Tale. TV is TV, and it’s not going to matter in the long run. Please stop the moral panic now.

People have been watching ‘bad’ TV for ages. In my opinion, there are not many shows worse than Coronation Street… so where are the calls to take it off the air? People tend to criticise reality TV is because it’s new and young people seem to enjoy it. The only difference, in substance, from other terrible TV shows like Neighbours is the fact that it claims to be real. And that aspect falls away because most viewers are aware that there is a lot of scripting behind the scenes. Is there a real difference in the value of the TV show just because it claims to be real?

There are a lot of valid arguments that New Zealand needs more funding for programmes that are non-reality and good quality, without relying on ratings. To which I say: YES. But that shouldn’t stop us having our fun and watching mindless programmes as well. The two issues are not inextricably linked together. We can have mindless TV that gets great ratings and enriching TV that teaches us about our country and our culture. I can support both of those things. They’re not mutually exclusive.

Maybe it’s mind-numbing drivel or an exhibition of modern culture gone wrong. But reality TV is not hurting anyone. New Zealanders should allocate more funding to quality TV shows, but concentrating that energy on policing what people like and watch is a waste of time. So what if my life has recently revolved around whether or not Suzy Cato made it through to the next episode of Dancing With The Stars (sob)? It could be worse. At least I’m not supporting David Seymour.


  • reality TV /
  • Media /
  • New Zealand /
  • Entertainment /
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