Are reality TV’s 15 minutes of fame up?

By on November 16, 2005

Reality TV. Could this be the greatest enigma to have hit American pop culture since Beanie Babies and Furbies? Reality TV shows like “Survivor” and “The Bachelor” used to dominate the time slots of primetime television but it seems that the networks have written the genre of reality TV into the history books. But, is the concept of reality TV really a thing of the past?

QU students voiced both sides of the matter. Melissa Yeo, a freshman health science major, whose favorite show is “Laguna Beach,” said “I believe reality TV shows are good because they give the general public something to entertain themselves with.”

Rory Cahalan, an undeclared liberal arts freshman, thinks “it’s a scam for the networks to save money because they’re cheaper to make.”

Chris Lupfer, a freshman interactive digital design major, claimed that “people get sucked into watching [reality TV] because they want to see what might happen to them because they’re ‘real.'”

Take a look at “Survivor” who untangled its web at the very beginning of the Reality TV phenomenon. “Survivor: Guatemala,” the eleventh season of this television prodigy, just premiered to 18.4 million viewers this fall. Although “Survivor: Guatemala’s” performance was actually down slightly from last spring’s premiere of “Survivor: Vanuatu,” most other broadcast network programming was still in repeats.

Kim Denny, a sophomore communications major, argues that she is no longer a “Survivor” fan because “It’s not ‘new’ anymore, it’s not interesting. Every show is the same thing, with different people, and a new angle; they’re all used up.” Last season’s “Survivor: Palau” debuted to the show’s biggest ratings in years and destroyed NBC’s sitcom “Joey.”

“The Apprentice” has proved to be a big hit, years after the reality TV boom. Recently, NBC has shifted its “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” ratings flop to Wednesdays against “Lost”-a death knell move that will pit the already struggling series against ABC’s megahit. Donald Trump dissed Martha Stewart’s “Apprentice,” and blamed her for his own ratings problems; his version of the show-also a part of this fall’s television season-has been struggling in the never-ending ratings battle. It’s now apparently time for Donald Trump to pay attention to one of his favorite business lessons-“Always look out for yourself… and feel free to throw your business partners under the bus.”

So how do QU business students feel about the “reality” aspect of their future jobs? In reaction to “The Apprentice,” Mark Liberfarb, a freshman business major, argues that “there should never be a competition to determine who should deserve a position in a company unless it’s purely promotional. You really need to look at the chemistry with their fellow employees, not only the ones they are competing against.

“It starts a mindset of doing whatever you can to rise above other people, even the ones on your team, whereas in a real company, you need team players, and people focused on what makes the whole group look good, as opposed to just themselves.”

Another reality TV powerhouse, ABC’s “The Bachelor,” is set to film its eighth season in Paris, but is still casting for the leading man. Having already relocated its “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise from California to New York City for the show’s two most recent editions, ABC announced its latest attempt to recapture the ratings success of the now struggling series-moving the show’s filming location 4,000 miles further east.

The fifth year of “American Idol” on Fox will surely follow the pattern of success of its predecessors. The next season has set a primetime series record price tag of $705,000 for a 30-second commercial during its Wednesday night installment. This is only after “American Idol 4″ performed to record ratings all season long.

MTV’s reality staple, “The Real World,” entered its sixteenth season this spring with “The Real World: Austin.” ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” is following the pattern of “CSI” with specials like “Home Edition” and “Wedding Edition” being turned into actual series. More recently, FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” catapulted onto the airwaves as an enormous success. ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” hit summer highs that had not been seen since “American Idol.” Not all shows are that lucky though-UPN’s “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic” drew only 2 million viewers.

QU students may prefer to watch teen dramas like “The OC” and “House” but the true verdict is in the ratings-which prove that reality TV is still popular-just not as lethal as the “CSI” franchise and the sophomore series “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost.”


About William Karvouniaris