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Reality TV Is Not All That Real

Just because you think reality TV is real doesn't mean it is real.

HOLLYWOOD—I will be the first to admit I am a fan of reality TV, more so reality competition series, but I do indulge in reality TV a lot. As of recent, almost all of America was captivated with the Bravo series “Vanderpump Rules” and the #Scandoval. Simply put, Tom Sandoval had been in a relationship with Ariana Madix for nearly 9 years. He cheated on her with Raquel Leviss, who just happened to be Ariana’s best friend. Yeah, this was a slice of real life that was a gut punch for so many people.

However, I pose a question to you: is what you see on TV ‘real?’ Why? We know Bravo which had already completed production on “Vanderpump Rules” picked cameras back up to capture the fallout. Guess what? You have a camera watching you that is going to impact how you feel and respond. Now, I absolutely feel Ariana’s rage at Tom during that riveting scene, as well as his lame excuse, but everyone else on the show, it was for a moment people, I’m sorry.

Look, at all the reality shows you watch, and the thing so many people fail to realize: it’s a production. You have camera crews, you have lighting, you have people in your home or at a particular place staging the action for the TV screen. I do NOT care what anyone says, when a camera is placed in front of you, it will alter how you behave. Why? You know you are being watched. You understand that what you say and what you do will be seen by so many others.

People don’t really ‘say’ what they really want to say when a camera is capturing it all. Yeah, you get these reality shows where you have those characters that are all over the place and feel a bit free and do what they please and say it’s as real as it gets. No, it is not real people, because the authentic you is captured when no one is watching. When someone is watching you edit what you say and do.

Even if those so called reality stars, because I’m not calling them celebrities admit it is who they are. Remember they are on TV. They want to be memorable; they want that check to keep coming in because with many reality shows in the beginning season, they are making pennies on a dime. It is NOT until the network sees the ratings and the love from the viewers that the stars of that so called reality series can negotiate a contract for bigger payout.

I’m going to give you a prime example of a series where you might get a slice of reality that is not so filtered, the CBS series “Big Brother.” “Big Brother” is a reality competition series where people vie for $500,000 by being the last houseguest remaining in a house where cameras and audio capture everything you do and say 24/7 and all is captured on the live feeds, which viewers can watch whenever they choose. There has been plenty and I mean plenty of controversy with the series over the years, but nothing bigger than recently.

“Big Brother 15” was the first season a disclaimer had to be released by CBS before each episode aired because of the level of racism, misogyny and homophobia that was displayed that season. Beyond disgusting, and it’s a season I will NEVER re-watch it is just too hard to do. The controversy doesn’t stop there because it transpired again in “Big Brother 19” which for most fans is one of the most hated seasons of all time, then we had to deal with it in “Big Brother 21” again.

You’d think people would learn after BB15 and BB19, you’re being watched, don’t behave badly, but those cameras watching 24/7 I think people expose their true colors and who they truly are. Then we had the drama of “Big Brother 22,” which was an all-star season that fans had been dying to see since “Big Brother 7.” None of that matters compared to the most recent season of “Big Brother 24” which was so toxic, as a fan I was nearly done.

It was just ugly, nasty and disgusting how Taylor Hale was treated in that house, and with that said, the ending was better than the beginning, but the cameras captured people showing their true colors and it was unfathomable to witness. It was a slice of America, letting us know while we have made progress, it may not be as much progress as we think and we should have made at this point in 2023.

There is this current trend with so many reality series like “The Real Housewives” and “Summer House” that have become so toxic recently people are throwing in the towel. The whole gang-up on one person mentality is not enjoyable to watch, but I think people seem to think otherwise. All I will say is that I used to be a massive fan of “Summer House” on Bravo, but after season 6 and then the pure toxicity of season 7, I’m done. There is so much more that can be watched during the winter months on Monday nights.

Sorry Bravo, you’ve lost me, you need to completely reboot that cast. A 40 year-old partying in the Hamptons with a bunch of late 20 early 30 year-olds is not entertaining like it was when it first kicked off. You should be casting people in their 20s for this series and frankly put some of the people on this series it is time for them to go.

Reality TV boomed in the early 00s, but nearly 20 years later, it seems things have turned toxic in a way that is no longer entertaining and something has to change. I want to be entertained, when I watch, I don’t want to cringe, but I also realize what I see is all for the camera. The more manufactured drama you have the better, but I like a touch of authenticity, but sometimes that authenticity is a brutal punch to humanity.

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