Reality TV shows are becoming harder and harder to avoid. The shows appear on the cover of everything from People Magazine to The New York Times.The show Big Brother even goes to the extent where you can watch the contestants in the house 24 hours a day online. The number of filming days for these shows rose 53% in the past few years. 57% of the shows on your TV are reality shows. Even more shocking, it only costs seven dollars to produce a ten day reality show! The sheer inexpensiveness behind reality shows is the reason for an abundance of them. These shows are much cheaper to make compared to scripted shows, therefore they need lower viewership rates to make a profit. For example, the season finale of Duck Dynasty had a viewership of 11.8 million people and the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, a scripted sitcom, had 12.9 million viewers, yet Duck Dynasty, a reality show, still produced more money.
What pops in your head when you think of romance? Maybe you picture roses and chocolates, or even the movie The Notebook. Would anyone picture a reality TV show couple? Probably not because most reality TV shows are so full of drama and fighting, that there seems to be no everlasting love. So you may think that reality TV is not affecting the way you view romance, and go about having relationships. However, reality TV leads us to have inconsistent views of love through their excessive use drama and false ideals of love. Two popular reality TV shows depict the worst of these ideals : The Bachelor and Jersey Shore.
The Bachelor is leading to a detrimental way of thinking. According to best selling author, Carol Tuttle, the show is telling us that it is up to someone else to decide our worth, that only the best get picked, and in turn throws us into a world of drama. Not to mention the complete lack of monogamy.
Jersey Shore is a show about a group of employees who live in a house together and work at a t-shirt shop on the broad walk in Jersey Shore. The show films them almost 24 hours a day from when they wake up in the morning to them partying at night. What’s most notable about the show is the amount of fighting that happens in this so-called “family”.
The social cognitive theory of Albert Bandura explains how we learn through observation, therefore if we view reality tv, we will model ideas and behaviors that we observe. Dr. David Myers describes another cognitive theory known as priming as the unconscious activation of particular associations in memory. Basically, an event that occurs triggers old memories that influence the way we respond to a similar event. It’s not a sudden absorption or change, but over time the information is coded in our brain when we are constantly watching the drama and false ideals portrayed on these TV shows the memories of an event that occurs on the screen could influence how we react to an event that happens in our real lives.