Growth of reality show

Reality television has been around since television began in the 1940s. There were versions of radio shows that transitioned to television shows based on reality. Realistic situations involving unscripted actors and paid hosts transitioned quite easily from radio to the television set. The genre was not fundamental to the advent of television, in other words. Some of the original shows to debut on television as reality television were Candid Camera, Beat the Clock, Truth or Consequences, You Bet Your Life, Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour, Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, the Miss America Pageant, and You Asked For It. These shows were very popular throughout the 1940s and 1950s, but tastes, milieus, and taboos have changed over the years precipitating lots of different takes on the reality show genre. Candid Camera was considered the first reality television show, and it is so memorable now that it has entered the pop culture mindset and is often referenced, alluded to, or parodied. There are additional versions of Candid Camera in modern times which feature people in unfamiliar situations that are videotaped for the audience’s amusement like Punked, hosted by Ashton Kutcher. The 1960s and 1970s saw a huge increase in the number of reality television shows and a growing appreciation of voyeurism in the common culture. Andy Warhol had his own reality television show called Chelsea Girls, and others were called An American Family, The Family, The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, and One Man and His Dog. Chuck Barris’s productions in the 1970s had a lasting cultural impact which endured for several decades afterwards. The Dating Game was recently featured in a movie called Mallrats. Other shows like An American Family and The Family prefigure Wife Swap and The Simple Life. The Newlywed Game is the grandfather of Blind Date, Elimidate, and The Fifth Wheel. The 1980s and the 1990s saw the true growth of reality television. COPS was probably the most important reality television show of the decade. It debuted in 1989 because of the Writers Guild of America strike. It was the first to use the camcorder and cinema verite feel that would prefigure much later reality television. The Real World was inspired by shows such as Nummer 28, which would itself inspire Big Brother. However, the creators of the Real World cite An American Family as an inspiration instead of the more popular Dutch television show, Nummer 28. Non-linear editing systems made it easy to edit several dozen hours of footage into usable segments, but that had been difficult before with film being to expensive to edit. America’s Funniest Home Videos also came out in the 1980s, and it inspired a wave of imitators. There were even America’s Funniest Animal Videos that were spawned because of it. This show enabled ordinary Americans to send in their funniest home videos and win a prize if their video made it on to the show, was selected for the top three, and then won the top prize through audience voting. It was very democratic, it encouraged participation from all of America, and it focused on the American family. It was, therefore, besides being very funny, politically prescient. The videos were funny, awesome, or interesting that were sent into the show, and then there were voiceovers and narration added to make it more funny. It was a mixture of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and reality television. Some of these films were spontaneous and unpredicted, but other videos are clearly scripted and prepared to be funny. These latter videos are often not selected for general inclusion into the segment. This show is also a competitive video program that is like a game show. It ties in everything that’s important to Americans like family, democracy, and capitalism. The 2000s saw several reality television shows that topped the charts for ratings of all television shows, period. It was the advent of chart-topping reality television that show television executives that reality television was the future and unscripted drama was the way to achieve massive audience participation. Like America’s Funniest Home Videos, Survivor and American Idol worked with audience voting to create a truly interactive experience. Other shows which had their advent in the 2000s included The Amazing Race, America’s Next Top Model, Dancing With The Stars, The Apprentice, Fear Factor, Big Brother, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, Project Runway, The Simple Life, The O. C., Desperate Housewives, Kenny vs. Spenny, Wife Swap, Blind Date, Elimidate, The Fifth Wheel, and Cheaters are all popular shows that had their debut in the 2000s. Some of this can be attributed to the high ratings of reality television shows that caused hundreds of spin-offs on lesser cable channels and the advent of video and cheap video editing. Before, people thought they wanted production value, scripted actors, and film, but nothing could be further from the truth as far as what people really like. Even the Academy of Television Arts and Science created an Emmy category for reality television, and they called it the Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. They cited the reason that reality television had become and integral part of television and culture, and it made perfect sense for them to create this new highly competitive category for reality television to spur innovation, creation, and integration of reality television into mainstream culture. This award was a confirmation of reality television’s prominence in our culture. In the beginning, when reality television was first starting to take off, some pundits, talking heads, and so-called authorities claimed that reality television was cheap, voyeuristic, and sensational garbage that was being spoon fed to the masses in exchange of quality programming with high production value. The scale was really tipped against reality television when the show, When Animals Attack, was introduced. This was such a far cry from the high production value and storyline with a show like Lassie that critics were peeved. The tagline for When Animals Attack was Lassie He Ain’t. Reality television has been singled out by scholars for encouraging the moral and intellectual impoverishment of the masses. However, our culture has come a long way since scholars, pundits, critics, and talking heads have disparaged it to begin with. Now, reality television is the accepted form of entertainment on television. It is fast, cheap, and self-reflecting. It is the way ahead for television programming in general. It is the most essential genre of mainstream television that is spurring innovation in a sea of dead programming on the mainstream networks.