Reality television crosses the line from entertainment to ridiculous
By Lisa Dalrymple
Illustration by Ashely Sadeghy
PHOTO CAPTION: CelebReality vs. Reality TV
“Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County,” “My Fair Brady,” “Project Runway” and “Flavor of Love?”
The reality of reality television is that it constitutes a major portion of television programming today. There are more than 200 reality television shows spanning several channels, including the major networks. The topics on which reality television shows can be based on are virtually endless.
For instance, there’s “Laguna Beach, “the real-life version of Fox’s O.C. The show follows several wealthy teenagers living in Orange County, Calif. It mirrors “The Real World,” another popular MTV
show. The show is currently in its third season.
Along with Laguna Beach, several other shows, both network and non network, continue to prove popular. “Survivor: Cook Islands” began its 13th season on Sept. 14. Reality TV has even won over the hearts of the Academy, as in the case of CBS’s “The Amazing Race,” which has won several Emmys since its debut in 2003. “American Idol,” “Last Comic Standing,” “America’s Next Top Model” and “Project Runway” are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reality television.
“I am in love with ‘Project Runway,’ senior Ellie Baggett said. “It is an inside view of the industry that the public has never seen before.”
Along with the traditional reality shows we’ve come to be familiar with, a new phenomenon, Celebrity Reality, more commonly dubbed “Celebreality” has appeared as well.
“Celebreality” is a series of television shows VH1 has presented starring B-list celebrities in reality TV formats. Imagine the likes of M.C. Hammer, Erik Estrada, Vanilla Ice, Charo, and Britney Spears’ first husband Jason Allen Alexander living in a Hollywood mansion together for 10 days.
“The Surreal Life” brings celebrities such as these together and lets the world in on their wild, and often confrontational, interactions with each other. Other Celebrity Reality shows include “My Fair Brady” (starring former Brady Bunch star Christopher Knight and Adrienne Curry, the winner of the first season of “America’s Next Top Model”), “Hogan Knows Best,” “Celebrity Fit Club” and “The Simple Life.”
It is safe to say that while participants in reality TV series often gain fame as a result of their appearance on the show, celebrities participating in their own versions of reality TV are often attempting to maintain or regain their fame.
Richard Hatch, the first winner of Survivor, was infamous for his nude beach strolls and open homosexuality. Following “Survivor,” Hatch had an opportunity to host a dating show on MTV, but lost that opportunity after a series of legal problems. He was charged with tax evasion and was sentenced to 51 months in prison. He was also charged, but not convicted, of abusing his then 9-year-old son.
Kristen Cavallari gained fame from her role on the premiere season of “Laguna Beach.” She has been on the cover of several magazines, including Seventeen and Maxim. Since “Laguna,” she has landed other small TV parts, and is currently filming “Fingerprints,” in which she appears as, fittingly, a high school student.
Some “stars” of reality TV shows go so far as to put on a faÃ§ade simply to gain fame, as in the
case of Hoopz, Flava Flav’s first love and the finalist on his show “Flavor of Love” (VH1).
She made it clear to Flav when the season was over that her newfound modeling and acting career was more important to her than him. As a result, Flava Flav is currently on a search for a more loyal woman in the show’s second season.
Celebrities also seek to regain their fame several hours after their 15 minutes are up. Hulk Hogan lets the world into his hearth and home with “Hogan Knows Best,” and Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie take on Middle America in “The Simple Life.”
With all of this effort to gain and maintain fame, viewers must question whether reality television and Celebreality are truly accurate depictions of reality.
“Reality TV is the most unrealistic genre on television,” sophomore Melissa Eisenhauer said.
Whether it is real or not, with the influx of shows in the genre and its growing popularity, reality TV and Celebreality are here to stay.