Reality television has become most common in television programming in today’s society. Even if you are not into the entire reality television idea, it is becoming harder to avoid. All reality TV genre have the same element of having unscripted situations and unknown participants. Reality TV shows just leaped to popularity in 2000’s, with the first season of American Idol, as well as Survivor. I think the popularity in Reality TV comes from the audience interactivity, it is inexpensive to produce, and the audience can relate to the cast.
Audience interactivity became a defining step in reality television making it more popular. According to Penn State University News article, “Probing Question: Why Do We Love Reality TV,” Sundar says, “The real change came when the audience became part of the production. “It's the tantalizing possibility of shaping the show that is offered to viewers week in and week out.” People feel their voices are being heard because most reality TV shows have web sites and that makes it very interactive. The audience is able to express their likes and dislikes for the contestants through blogs and even tweets. The audience is also able to call in via toll free numbers to cast in their votes. Another reason reality television became popular is because it is inexpensive to produce depending on the network and content. According to Texas Christian University’s article, “The Economics Of Reality TV, “Reality TV shows are appealing to networks because they are much cheaper to make than dramas or sitcoms and allow the networks to create 'stars' that they can manipulate in ways that they could never exploit or control professional actors,” (2 Brenner). Cheap production and the advent of an easy vessel for ridicule played equally important roles in the genre’s appeal. Most reality shows have smaller crews, fewer sets, and will usually not need much equipment, making it low cost. An episode of a scripted series can be anywhere between half-million and millions of dollars. The lead writers are replaced with a story editor who do less and are paid less, and while the cast is paid, they are not well known superstars wanting high end salaries. Most networks rely on their reality television shows to finance their much more expensive fictional centerpieces.
Finally, being able to relate to the characters is the last reason I think reality TV is popular. The Reality genre airs programs that involve non-celebrity actors being filmed continuously through