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Why Do We Watch Reality shows?

Reality TV is popular in many countries. While America may seem to have tons of reality programming spanning across numerous subjects, there are countries all over the world that love the genre as much as we do. It is such a mystery why people love watching reality television so much that it seems like human nature. This article will attempt to solve that mystery.

Britain began most television trivia shows, music competitions, and reality syndicated shows. There are forty-four different countries’ versions of “Britain’s Got Talent” since the original released in 2006. “Wife Swap,” which is seemingly less popular in the states, has twenty-two versions across the globe. “Master Chef,” which also originated in Britain, has thirty-two versions in the world.  (Source: Economist)

A 2012 report from The Hollywood Reporter narrows the scope to an American perspective. It says that of 100 percent of people surveyed, fifty-one percent admitted to watching talent competitions, forty percent admitted to watching shows about historical jobs (Pawn Stars), thirty-six percent about food and cooking (Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen), thirty-one percent tune in to physical competition shows (Survivor, the Amazing Race), and thirty-one percent watch shows about dangerous jobs (Deadlist Catch, Gator Boys). Obviously some people are pulling double duty on some of these shows.

A study from the journal Psychology and Marketing found a “decline in the importance of humor and an increase in the importance of drama” in adolescents who watch reality television. Drama is very popular in shows like “The Real Housewives” franchises. It almost seems that the more drama is involved, the more popular the show. Atlanta is the most popular, with thirty-two percent of viewers, New Jersey holds twenty-one percent of viewers, Orange County has nineteen percent, Beverly Hills has sixteen percent, and New York holds eleven percent (The Hollywood Reporter). Interestingly enough, Atlanta is full of arguments, and New Jersey has an inafamous “table-flipping” scene featuring a livid Teresa Guidice. Bring on the drama, bring on the ratings?

Adolescent Motivations for Reality Television Viewing: An Exploratory Study says that “The age-related differences with respect to the drama and humor motivational categories found in this exploratory study suggest an emerging hypothesis—that the importance of the humor motivation may decline with age and the importance of drama as a viewer motivation may increase with age.” This finding could likely explain why high schoolers and older identify more with shows like The Real World or The Real Housewives franchises, while younger audiences find humor in American Idol failed auditions and The Amazing Race contestants running all over the place.

The study from the journal Psychology and Marketing also went as far as saying that “Advertisers have concluded that reality programs are especially suitable for product placements because of the possibility for natural integration of the product within the context of the program.” This is true from an earlier post on the TalkinTV Blog, which shows all of the high fashion brands sold in Kyle’s store on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Teresa Guidice of the Real Housewives has been on the New York Times Best Selling Authors List three times for her cookbooks. Bethenny Frankel sold her Skinny Girl alcoholic beverage line for one hundred and twenty million dollars, as reported by Forbes.

Although these businesses are thriving, many viewers do not take reality television stars as seriously as they take themselves. Sixty-six percent of viewers reported in a poll from The Hollywood Reporter that they are laughing at the characters of reality television shows, rather than the thrity-four percent who are laughing with them. The same poll revealed that seventy-three percent of viewers actually care about the set-up of the show they are watching from producers, or script set ups behind the scenes of a show.

As far as commercials go, the best place to advertise is clearly live television. With live television, viewers cannot seek through commercials as they could on demand or with DVR. Viewers of shows like talent competitions prefer to watch the shows live so they can vote in real time and view the results as they occur. Therefore, advertising during these shows would yield the best results (The Hollywood Reporter).

The Hollywood Reporter’s study showed that seventy-five percent of viewers have a preference for television personalities that are relatable for the viewer and ninety-six percent prefer likeable personalities. The viewers oppose a star who is over the top and cannot be relatable. As a matter of fact, the company reported that viewers have a keen awareness on what is relatable. Seventy-none percent of viewers surveyed see through Kim Kardashian and believe that her wedding with Kris Humphries and her sudden relationship with rapper Kanye West are stunts for publicity. Thirty two percent of viewers truly believe she is a business mogul and sixty eight percent consider her to not posses true talent or any skills.

As a matter of fact, many viewers find certain reality television shows to actually be tasteless. The Hollywood Reporter says that thirty percent of readers surveyed believe that Jersey Shore “crosses the line of taste and decency (Hollywood Reporter).”

In Eric Hoyt’s article Keeping it Real: Watching the World Watch TV, he states “It is unfair and shortsighted to write off reality television as a vast cultural wasteland, particularly when taking this canonical view.” But why do we watch Reality TV? And why can’t we stop ourselves from tuning in weekly? “It’s a constant need to check up on the lives of other real people,” says Joe D’Alonzo, Drexel University alum. “My favorite reality television show is Top Gear because the hosts talk about cars as if it is a conversation with friends. I like to watch which new car features come out and what the celebrity guests say about them. It’s interesting to see what a car is capable of with a basically limitless budget.” He says.

Everyone seems to have an interest in a reality show that applies to their favorite topics. In an article published in Psychology & Marketing, a study called Adolescent Motivations for Reality Television Viewing: An Exploratory Study reveals that “People make decisions as to what program to watch—and whether to watch television at all—based on the needs and wants they seek to satisfy.” This would make sense with the quote above. Joe D’Alonzo likes cars so he satisfies his needs through watching the show. If people like fashion but don’t have the cash to throw around, they can satisfy their needs when they watch Project Runway and live vicariously through the personalities.

With a new reality show coming out every day, and different people being cast regularly, there are no limits to the potential shows that could come out. We have shows about Teen Moms, shows that are known as the Jersey Shore of rednecks (Buckwild), shows about the wives of the mafia (Mob Wives), Ghost Hunters, and even Hillbilly Hand-fishing. Tons of Soap Operas have been cancelled; actors are frustrated with shows getting cancelled in place of reality shows, and American viewers’ priorities seemed to have shifted. Will reality television stay this popular forever? It’s hard to tell, but it’s looking like it’s here to stay.  It doesn’t seem to matter why we are watching reality television, but we are watching it, and the ratings are just getting higher.

Sources: The reality television poll. (2012). Hollywood Reporter, 418, 50-51. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1023847472?accountid=10559

“Entertainers to the world; The reality-television business.” The Economist [US] 5 Nov. 2011: 67(US). Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
Patino, A., Kaltcheva, V. D. and Smith, M. F. (2012), Adolescent Motivations for Reality Television Viewing: An Exploratory Study. Psychol. Mark., 29: 136–143. doi: 10.1002/mar.20510
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Real Housewives Paris Edition

The whole episode of Real Housewives in Paris Part 2 revolves around a fear for Kim’s relapse. Kim got a rhinoplasty and the women fear that she is abusing her pain medication. Kim was a former alcoholic and is currently in recovery. This episode shows a lot of dirty laundry aired and it is very unclear if Kim is “just being Kim” or if there is something deeper. It’s uncomfortable to watch the producers compile together footage of the women speculating and being catty. The first 20 minutes of the episode could be spared.

Meanwhile, Mauricio and Ken are showing a very cute side of the men’s time on the trip. Mauricio and Ken got in an argument earlier this season about what each man would do if facing a lawsuit. Now, they’re chilling out on a bus trip and having a blast together in Paris. The difference between the mens’ argument and the womens’ lasting grudges are a true attribute to the show’s producer-canned drama. Where the cameras don’t linger, the arguments settle down.

The women participate in a true Parisian cooking class. Many sexual innuendos ensue. I feel like I’m in home economics at high school again. Kyle draws a heart for Mauricio’s meal. Yolanda writes her husbands initials (even though he’s not there… how sweet, I really mean creepy and dependent.) Brandi writes “F.U.” with her cherry sauce. That was my favorite one.

Lisa is being extremely uncomfortable, pulling people aside to talk about Kim’s hypothetical relapse. Kim is obviously within an earshot. Yolanda isn’t having it- and she tells Lisa “We’re finished talking about that.” Yolanda is so drama-free, it’s almost refreshing. Brandi and Kim are having a conversation about how Kim wishes her sister would not baby her. Kim clearly feels embarrassed.

The ladies go shopping and have a discussion about Kim’s discomfort. Kim feels victimized and the women decide that she should speak with Lisa about their differences. They are clearly setting up the reunion show to make Lisa the “mean girl.” Kim opens up about being vulnerable and frightened about her sobriety but assures the ladies that she is keeping strong.

In true Mauricio fashion, he notices Kim in the store and bought her the handbag that she was eyeing up. He expresses his pride in his sister-in-law for maintaining sobriety and hands her the gift. It was one of the few very genuine and precious moments of this episode. Best brother-in-law ever.. or husband ever! He goes on a segway tour with his partner in crime Ken. At this point, I just want to join them. The camera should follow them around more.

Kyle then goes to a confrontational discussion with Lisa atop the Eiffel Tower. Lisa has no idea why she is being confronted because she loves acting oblivious. Their entire conversation reminds me of why I don’t miss junior high school, so excuse the zoning out.

Yes, back to the segway tour! This is high quality entertainment. Ken asks Mauricio if they should go up to the ladies in the Eiffel Tower and Mauricio says they should just go. Good call, Mauricio.

Oh boy, we’re back to the argument. This friendship is such a flip flop. Kyle immaturely says “I’ve been replaced” in reference to Brandi’s newfound friendship with Lisa. What is going ON on the Eiffel Tower!?! Kyle starts crying and says “You still didn’t say you love me!,” demanding that Lisa repeats that she loves her.  This is getting more and more uncomfortable. Meanwhile, arch-nemeses Kim and Brandi are talking about their love lives. This show is just getting twisted. But hey, it’s Beverly Hills.

Can we get more Mauricio? Preferably beachside? Just kidding, but I’m not really kidding.

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Real Housewives Recap: Tea Party Style

This past episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills featured Lisa’s annual tea party. If you could recall, last season’s tea party ended in tears and drunken screams. This year, Lisa is sure she won’t disappoint and brings the drama by inviting Brandi and Adrienne, who have been battling one another complete with a lawsuit threat. That sounds like two perfect people to be attending the same event.

Brandi showed the ladies around Lisa’s new house and even tours her “own room,” which is a guest room within the estate. Brandi jokes as if she is their teenage daughter. During the tour, Brandi and Taylor discover a very tasteful nude photo of Lisa and giggle like schoolgirls. They also get lost in Lisa’s closet, which looks more like a shopping mall. Everything Lisa owns truly is pink.

The tea party was lavish. The decor was pristine. The men were hot. Yes, the men- Lisa’s waitstaff. She had Jax and ponytail man from Sur, and her spin-off show “Vanderpump Rules” bartend her tea party. Did I mention a Vanderpump tea party has no tea? Lisa’s teaparty serves cocktails only.

Fast forward to all of the ladies sitting at their table and giving a usual Real Housewives style toast. This is obviously asked of the cast by all of the producers in every Housewives’ franchise on television. It usually goes something like this- “There has been drama, but we’re all here at this table, so let’s all celebrate together!” Usually, the audience isn’t quite sure what they are celebrating, but we go with it anyway.

After a particularly half-assed toast, Taylor Armstrong makes her swift and desperate attempt to remain legitimate in the show. She quips- “everyone loves to sue everyone here, so that’ll be fun.” BAM- instant drama! Several ladies are clearly wasted at this time and Adrienne is not amused. Brandi looks shocked, and Taylor is giggling and slurring her words. Kyle instantly changes the subject and mentions the upcoming white party, and Taylor rebuts that she did not like being turned away from the white party when her (now deceased) husband threatened to sue. Brandi starts looking for the hot bartenders so she doesn’t draw attention to herself. Lisa is not amused and asked Taylor to get up and help her grab something from the house. Lisa tells Taylor to cut the crap and stop instigating the ladies. Taylor uses a phony excuse and says that she is not (cough-trying to make drama on television to stay relevant-cough) doing that, but is offended because Adrienne had gotten mad at Taylor’s lawsuit last season. Let’s call this Taylor’s revenge.

Taylor’s comment obviously broke the ice to begin a screaming match between Brandi and Adrienne across the table. Allegations went flying as the ladies accused one another of slander on Twitter, denying lawsuitgate, and even bringing Adriennes butler into the feud. Did he or didn’t he leak info to the press about Brandi? Obviously he did because he also did this. Why, Bernie, why? That story is neither here nor there, but it is a mess and who knows who is lying! The drama will obviously come to a head when the white party happens next week. More alcohol, more outlandish behavior, and the husbands get involved! I can’t wait to see Ken stand up for what he believes in- he is such a cute British man and I can’t even imagine him getting mad! Until next time…

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TV’s Best Villains: People We Love to Hate

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Everyone loves drama on a television show, no matter if we’re watching a comedy, a reality show, or a true drama. On screen or off screen, people cannot get enough of the action. Please click through this slideshow and see some of our favorite troublemakers from each series.

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Re-Cap of Real Housewives

This episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was a bit disappointing, to say the least. Is it sad that it’s disappointing when there’s not enough smack talk or finger-pointing between these middle aged hot messes? Obviously the scenes for next week show a much juicier confrontation about who actually owns what they say they own- restaurants or hotels or whatever they claim is theirs.

The episode opens up with crazy lemons Yolanda, as I like to call her, preparing a powow at her house for the ladies. This get-together features none other than Yolanda’s good friend SUZANNE SOMERS. Yes, THAT Suzanne Somers, the thigh master herself! Yolanda and Lisa both claim they’ve never seen Three’s Company, though I find that hard to believe. I guess they didn’t have amazing sitcoms in Sweden and Britain like we do in the states. Kyle shamelessly admits how much she loved the show and even called her Chrissy Snow. It’s beyond obvious that Suzanne Somers has become quite the looney tune with her philosophy of 40 supplements a day and living until age 105. Queue in inappropriate innuendo from Lisa, and it was an entertaining segment. Good luck to you all- eat lemons and prosper, as Yolanda would say.

Brandis over at a dance studio with a “friend” that just happens to own it. She is preparing for a woman empowerment series that she was invited to host in Las Vegas — a strip dance lesson. Only, she doesn’t actually know anything about stripping, hence learning from her strip dance-studio owning friend. She whips herself around, and I must say she was no amateur. Now she is ready to invite the girls to Vegas!

Meanwhile, we cut over to Kyle’s daughter’s sixth grade graduation. There really is nothing to say about this scene other than Kyle’s sisters show up to nothing… (I’m looking at you, Kim Richards and Kathy Hilton!) and Mauricio’s parents are adorable. It seems like they adopted their daughter-in-law, and that’s cute. It looked like a fun party, but Beverly Hills fashion for a sixth grade graduation seems like too much.

Just when you feel all warm inside, they cut to Kim who is at home packing up photos of her children. They show her in front of the backdrop commenting on her daughter looking like her, and next thing you know she starts talking about plastic surgery. That’s where my mind goes when people say “You look just like your mother!” Sike. What an insult! The newly rehabbed Kim goes on a crazy tangent about begging the surgeon for eyes, a face lift and other things before he negotiates her down to a nose job. She blabbers this whole story and it becomes uncomfortable. Then the scene ends.

We mext see yet another batty scene featuring Yolanda, who might just be a gourmet chef. Sure, her food is so beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but her attitude to go with the meal is not. Her philosophy is to not spend more than eight days apart from her husband, and she seems to judge anyone who does. She also thinks to keep a man happy is to cook and well, you know… with him. She voices that she wants to last longer than his past two marriages. We won’t get started on her grammy-winning husband or how distraught she is over her friend’s divorce. You might know them, Heidi and Seal?

After a yawn of a dinner where Brandi calls herself a “fighter” and discusses being tired of said fighting, they verbally murder LeAnn Rhymes and giggle to themselves. Post meal, Yolanda meets up with them after she just HAD to spend that day with her husband or else he might start barking up someone else’s tree in those 24 hours. She orders a green juice which looks like its made out of everything your mom forced you to eat as a child. In her interview off camera from the others, she criticizes the women for eating bacon and tells the audience that the green is keeping her young. I think she’s a witch, with a Land Rover for a broom.

Up next week: actual DRAMA! I can’t wait for Camille to call Lisa out on not owning SUR — the lounge that is the subject of her spin-off Vanderpump Rules. That show is awful, but such a guilty pleasure. Maybe someone’s jealous? Camille may have wanted an “I was married to Kelsey Grammar” spin-off!

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