While channel surfing, one frequently finds themselves lured into the drama of other people’s lives. Whether it be pawn shop owners, survival on an island with strangers, or the illegal production of moonshine, it seems TV viewers love reality television. With its stars being idolized by audiences worldwide, reality television relies on its viewers becoming emotionally attached to its characters.
In order for a loyal viewer to become hooked on a television show, there has to be some sort of element that allows one to connect, or relate. While most people will never be stranded on an island, or asked, “Do you accept this rose,” we like to imagine how we would respond if we were there. When our favorite character responds in the same way we would, a connection is made.
So how do producers of Reality TV lure us in? They start with the trailer.
The trailer almost always shows an explosive scene from an upcoming episode, which immediately causes audiences to wonder how the event occurred.
This is better known as an inciting incident-the path in which your favorite character goes down in the story. Without this significant event occurring, there would be no story.
“Reality television is chock full of inciting incidents…which is really watching another human-being explode,” said Tobias Yoshimura, associate professor of informatics, who has worked as a producer and director of various reality television shows. “It appeals to us; watching someone else’s life crumble.”
As a society we crave the drama and abnormality that is not present in our everyday lives. Reality television satisfies this craving by allowing audiences to live vicariously through the adventures of his or her favorite reality television star.
Sometimes, this line between reality television and real life blur. Shows like “The Jersey Shore,” can influence individuals to participate in the unacceptable behavior shown throughout the series, as opposed to simply watching it on the television screen.