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Reality TV – Distraction or Drain?

Reality TV – Distraction or Drain?

I was thinking about how much reality TV has taken over television programming. 

It seems like it was just yesterday when we were first introduced to Survivor and how quickly it became the water cooler talk as we all became obsessed with who would be voted off the island next.

Reality TV has really evolved since then.  

One statistic I found stated that there were 20 reality shows in 2000 and this jumped to 320 in 2010.   I actually even tried to count how many reality shows are on TV now but to be honest there were just so many that I actually just stopped counting.

There’s no denying it, when you turn on your TV you can see everything from people showing off their talents to others trying to lose weight, friends fighting with each other to families not doing too much of anything.  If you can think it – there’s probably a reality show about it.

I wanted to try and understand why we have such an appetite for this type of programming.  

First thing I discovered – is that our appetites are being whetted by the television networks and producers.   

It is estimated that a reality show costs between $100,000 to $500,000 an episode in comparison to scripted shows which can cost significantly more – average $1M to $3M an episode

As well, there is less risk in producing a reality show.  If an idea doesn’t take off, it is much easier to cancel than a scripted show.  All this is interesting, but it still doesn’t answer the question of why we actually watch.

I discovered that there were a number of different theories as to why we watch. 

Some believe we watch because we secretly would like to be famous and we enjoy watching people we can personally relate to achieve this.  Others believe it’s because we enjoy watching people be embarrassed and/or humiliated as it makes us feel better about ourselves. And yet another theory is that we like watching people behave in ways that we wish we could ourselves but know society would not accept.

Whatever the reason, I wonder how healthy this really is for us.

By spending time watching other people’s lives are we possibly taking precious time away from developing our own? 

If we were spending time doing things that we really enjoyed in our own lives, would we still have this same level of interest in watching other people’s lives?

What do you think?  Do you watch reality TV?  Do you think it’s just a harmless distraction or actually a drain of your time?

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.