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    Dangerous Stereotypes in Reality TV

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    Have you ever been flipping through the television channels and were astonished by how many reality tv shows are on there? The number of reality shows rises rapidly during the television premiere weeks. With this rise, children are starting to watch less of age-appropriate shows and more of these susceptible shows.

    Authenticity in Reality Television is a big deal. “Reality has largely gotten a pass because it ostensibly reflects ‘reality’ — overlooking how participants are depicted as ‘characters’ in much the way fictional personalities are (Lowry, Bryan). These celebrities were once normal people. They use to have lives that weren’t “waking up” in full hair and makeup.

    “Certain motives for watching television have been found to be consistently related to higher perceptions of reality.”(Potter, W.James) These shows are promoting dangerous stereotypes for young children and even adults. The producers are staging and scripting these shows that everyone is obsessed with. “Reality television is a type of television programming that is generally unscripted and unrehearsed” (Reality Television).

    The version of “reality television” that is being put out into society is not the reality Americans face every day. From The Bachelor to The Real Housewives of Atlanta, they are all not one hundred percent authentic. “Boylorn commented on a process that occurs on Flavor of Love when Flavor Flav renames the contestants during the beginning of the show, in order to rebrand them as a new character while also casually stripping them of their own personalities and, as a result, warping the reality of reality TV.” (Strauss, Paulette S.)

    These men and women are being brought up into the world and they are no longer their own person, they are transforming into the mold of the perfect person in this society. “As long as you have good characters that people care about, that’s when people get invested,’ the producer says. It goes back to casting. On the shows I’ve worked on, the people have absolutely been themselves. I worked on ‘Wife Swap.’

    Literally, you’re finding the craziest people possible’ (“Reality TV”). These producers are doing everything that they can so that they can make these shows less scripted. But when they do not find that, they result in hiring someone completely opposite and changing them for the worse. This, in some cases, ruins people’s lives and reputations. These creators are also promoting regional and racial stereotypes and promoting gender roles.

    “Race appears unrelated to gender, but part of a broader issue. Compared to U.S. Census data, it appears that whites are over-represented at the expense of several minority groups, specifically Asian, Hispanic and Native American. (Glascock, Jack) Caucasian women are who most people expect to be on television in today’s day and age, also known as “ the blonde bombshell”. Women and men of all races should be more involved in the entertainment world.

    “In her analysis of 10 reality television shows, Tyree (2011) determined that more than half of African American participants fit into at least one stereotype, including the “angry Black woman,” described variously as argumentative, engaging in verbal threats, and exhibiting “harsh” facial and body mannerisms.” (Glascock, Jack, and Catherine Preston-Schreck) With that, the behaviors that the producers are portraying are nowhere near what they ought to be.

    “Behaviors associated with male stereotypes on television have included giving orders, making plans and physical aggression.”(Glascock, Jack) Toxic masculinity is one of the biggest reasons men today struggle. “Men are fed up with this. They are fed up with being told how awful we are all day. We’re fed up with this. Sorry.” (Arsenault, Adrienne) Men today are tired of being put down as the “bad guys”.

    These reality shows are making men out to be the worst part of themselves. The producers only show what they want people to see. “Young adults and teens could be the new face of plastic surgery, according to 2015 stats from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Potential drivers are the ever-increasing social media and reality TV influences on millennials.” (Hilton, Lisette)

    Dermatologists are calling this rise, The Kardashian Effect. As the Kardashians popularity rises, so does the number of people who want to look just like them. In which plastic surgery is the only way to accomplish that, with them also having plastic surgery. “Filmmakers have not ceased in trying to portray what really happens in schools.” (Reel Education)

    There are some shows that portray high schools as a place where everything goes right and perfect, whether it be with other students and even teachers. This “reality” that is being portrayed is not the reality Americans face on any regular basis. Once these kids get to high school, they expect everything to be handed to them, as it shows them on their tv. But, it is not and they are constantly having to learn how to do their lives over again because they spent too much time focusing on how to become popular like the guys on tv.

    There are some reasons why there are more reality tv shows than regular programming. ‘An episode for a scripted series can be anywhere between a half-million and millions of dollars depending on the network and content involved,’ Manville says. ‘Reality TV is much more manageable in terms of getting content produced and on the air, with much less risk. But the process reflects that as well.

    It’s much easier to sell a reality TV show.’ (Reality TV) Reality TV is much more cost effective and they can produce a lot of episodes for what they could make one, non-scripted show. Also, reality tv is making celebrities more self-conscious and aware of what they can and cannot do. “After the two-time Dancing champion showed up last fall looking noticeably heavier, she was slammed by bloggers and some of her fellow pros, with Louis van Amstel saying that if viewers ‘watch someone who’s dancing her butt off and she’s still heavy, they can be discouraged.

    ‘ The criticism ‘made me insecure,’ Burke admits.” ‘I need to break a sweat every day or I don’t feel good,’ says Burke. (Rizzo, Monica) This is just one example of a celebrity struggling with their appearance after being slammed by the public, for not being what they expect their “perfect lives” to look like, Even though she works out every day and is an overall active person, these critics can still get to these celebrities.

    Either way, there will always be people who disagree on whether reality television provides an educational impact on their society or not. These shows are starting to be dangerous for young children to even grown adults. Producers need to step up and start making “reality television” actually the reality, not a made-up version of someone else’s life.As consumers, America needs to step up and tell them what they need to do and not let them have free reign over what they are now being forced to watch.

    Works Cited

    1. ARSENAULT, ADRIENNE, and ANDREW CHANG. “Gillette Earns Kudos and Criticism for Tackling Toxic Masculinity in New Ad.” National (CBC Television), Jan. 2019.
    2. EBSCOhost, Conrad, Bradley. “Reel Education: Documentaries, Biopics, and Reality Television.” Curriculum & Teaching Dialogue, vol. 20, no. 1/2/2018, Sept. 2018, p. (Sp)167-(Sp)170.
    3. EBSCOhost, Glascock, Jack, and Catherine Preston-Schreck. “Verbal Aggression, Race, and Sex on Reality TV: Is This Really the Way It Is?” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 62, no. 3, Sept. 2018, pp. 427–444. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08838151.2018.1451859.
    4. Glascock, Jack. “Gender Roles on Prime-Time Network Television: Demographics and Behaviors.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 45, no. 4, Fall 2001, p. 656.
    5. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem4504pass:[_]7. Hilton, Lisette. “Millennials and the Kardashian Effect.” Dermatology Times, vol. 37, no. 2, Feb. 2016, p. 46.
    6. EBSCOhost, Lowry, Brian. “Stereotypes: Reality TV’s Dirty Little Secret.” Variety, vol. 417, no. 8, Jan. 2010, p. 16. EBSCOhost,
    7. Potter, W.James. “Perceived Reality in Television Effects Research.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, vol. 32, no. 1, Jan. 1988, pp. 23–41.
    8. EBSCOhost,
    9. Rizzo, Monica. “IT TAKES MORE THAN DANCING . . . To Look This Good!” People, vol. 72, no. 15, Oct. 2009, p. 74.
    10. EBSCOhost,
    11. Strauss, Paulette S. “Scripted Stereotypes In Reality TV.” DigitalCommonsPace, 2018,
    12. “Reality Television.” Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, Jan. 2018, p. 1;
    13. EBSCOhost,
    14. “Reality TV – Low Cost Programming That Produces High Ratings.” South University,

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