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The future of Reality TV: is it here to stay?

Reality TV has become quite popular in recent years with shows like The X Factor, Love Island and The Only Way is Essex attracting a record number of viewers.

“Reality TV has opened our eyes to what is compelling and informative in our world and worlds we don’t live in,” says Scott Manville, founder, and president of the TV Writer’s Vault. Yes, there’s a lot of low-grade content out there, but if we’re looking at the good it’s done, we have to acknowledge how it’s entertained and educated us. Viewers tune in. Advertisers respond to the numbers. Networks produce more to sell more.”

The producers also welcome the new concept of reality shows because of low production costs. Reality TV shows are unscripted and cheaper to produce than scripted shows.

The X Factor

When Big Brother hit TV screens in 2000, it soon became the most talked-about reality TV show. Since the arrival of reality shows such as Pop Idol and The X Factor, the brainchild of Simon Cowell, viewers love spending time watching music competition The X Factor.

According to the findings of a survey conducted by the Brand Driver research in 2010, viewers love watching The X Factor as they can relate to the contestants and form a strong bond with them. The survey found that almost a third of viewers said they watched the X Factor and felt “part of a community”.

“The X Factor has a telling and unique ability to provoke extreme emotions in its viewers, from shouting at the judges to crying at the contestants’ stories and journey,” says Tim Julian, the chief executive of Brand Driver. “This begs the question as to whether we are becoming a nation more able to relate to characters on the screen than in real life.”

Love Island

Love Island is a British dating reality show, centred around hot new singles looking for love and romance in a luxury Majorca villa.

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The entire nation has been gripped by Love Island fever, ever since it hit our TV screens three years ago.

The show is hosted by Caroline Flack and narrated by comedian Iain Stirling. Aside from being ITV2’s most-watched programme, Love Island gave us three rock-solid couples who were also the winners of the dating show: ‘Alex Bowen and Olivia Buckland (2015)’, ‘Cara De La Hoyde and Nathan Massey (2016)’ and 2018’s winning duo ‘Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham’.

Love Island pulled in the highest ITV2 viewing figures this year, with over 3 million fans tuning in to see the hit show and admiring the contestants’ perfectly sculpted bodies.

As the show progressed, Love Island viewers were left flabbergasted by the manner in which contestants were made to take part in some challenges and activities for the sake of winning a party for all contestants.

Tasks such as “Snog, marry, pie” and the lie detector test where contestants kissed other girls and admitted that other girls in the villa were more attractive shocked viewers who accused the producers of creating chaos and tension in a way to boost the shows’ ratings.

A Love Island spokesman said of the show’s contestants: “Opinions they have, decisions they make and the relationships formed are completely within the control of the Islanders themselves. It is our intention to produce a show that is a fair and accurate representation of life in the villa.”

But, Love Island 2018 contestant Ellie Jones disclosed she was sent into the villa to split up the show’s most loved-up couple, Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham.

According to Ellie, the producers wanted her to cause tension and they tried to persuade her into speaking to Dani about Jack who had liked Dani’s Instagram pics before entering the show.

She added: “They didn’t show it but I told Dani I do think Jack genuinely likes her.”

Ofcom received 2,500 complaints from viewers who blamed Love Island bosses of harming Dani’s wellbeing when she was shown to be upset by a video of Jack reacting to Ellie’s arrival.

In a further twist, as Caroline Flack revealed in another episode – one couple who had received the fewest votes had to leave the villa and the couple who weren’t chosen to stay could remain in the villa, but only on one condition – they had to break up. Or, they could leave the villa, without risking heartbreak.

The Only Way is Essex

The Only Way is Essex is a reality soap set in Brentwood. It revolves around a group of friends and contains plenty of drama and love triangles.

In 2011, it won the Audience award at the Baftas and has proved to be a massive hit with the public.

Some viewers have criticised the show of being entirely scripted and edited to get more views. They voiced concerns about the on-screen behaviour and abusive language of some of the stars which can have a negative effect on younger viewers who can’t differentiate between right and wrong.

The future of reality TV 

Despite critics denouncing reality TV shows over ‘manipulative editing’ and ‘thriving on conflict between the contestants’, we are getting obsessed with reality TV with each passing day.

Shows like The X Factor and Love Island have given a new dimension to reality genre with more of us tuning into them to get our daily dose of entertainment and relieve stress.

Reality shows are here to stay due to their popularity and demand. They make good TV but the entertainment value and authenticity of reality television must not be tainted and there should be a clear distinction between quality reality TV and fake reality TV shows.

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