Reality TV good for me? Are you kidding? How could watching Snookie make a drunken fool of herself possibly be beneficial? (Note: Snookie is one of the stars of a reality TV show called Jersey Shore, which, I’m proud to say, I have NEVER seen!)
Reality TV, television shows that display non-actors in “unscripted” situations, has been around almost as long as television has. The very first reality TV show was likely to be Candid Camera back in 1947. However, the genre did not take off until the late 1990’s or early 2000’s with shows like Big Brother and Survivor, where common people would compete for a prize.
More modern examples include shows such as Pawn Stars, American Idol, Hoarders and Biggest Loser. There are now reality TV shows in every imaginable realm of real life.
But how can watching someone who is about to lose their house because of overwhelming hoarding going to be good for you?
Here are just a few ways that reality TV may be good for you:
Personal Struggle – Many reality TV shows present topics of personal struggle. Think Biggest Loser here. There is already a huge amount of evidence indicating that this show helps more than just the contestants participating for the prize. Many Americans are finding themselves inspired and motivated by watching these “real people” through their challenges. It brings up the attitude, “If they can do it, I can do it.”
Avoidance – A great example here is the show Hoarders. While there are very few people that experience hoarding to the extent shown on this show, many people will watch that and become motivated NOT to allow themselves to get that far. This is also the case for shows like Biggest Loser where, seeing those extreme weights and the struggle they under go to lose it, motivates individuals not to allow themselves to gain that much.
Dream– Shows like American Idol allow people to dream big. Without the initial dream, we can’t even get started. Sure, AI may present a less-than-desirable solution to helping more people achieve success but there are now huge numbers of people that may have just a little more hope that they’re dreams can come true. I wonder if Malcolm Gladwell will be talking about the Outliers being the ones born in the reality TV generation in the next revision of his book.
Inspire Creativity – Some reality TV shows simply help us to think of new ideas or explore new things. Shows like Shark Tank show us the possibilities within the realm of small business. And who knew that one could be a movie make-up artist or accessory designer before shows like Face-Off or Project Accessory? The world is full of possibilities and these shows help us to see more of them.
Take Chances – Shows like The Amazing Race and Survivor may inspire us to take more chances, helping us to get unstuck from our ordinary lives. When we take more chances, more opportunities become available.
If you watch Reality TV with the right mindset to be inspired and motivated, to find the positive message rather than just as a voyeur looking to see how bad others lives can be then reality TV may be good for you.