What’s the deal with reality TV?


Mara Tiede

Reality TV proves to have continuous success with all the shows produced in this category.

Mara Tiede, Staff Writer

I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of reality TV. 

Whether it be any show in “The Bachelor” franchise, “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race,” etc., I could spend (and have in the past) hours on end sitting on my couch with my eyes glued to the TV screen as I watch people make a complete fool of themselves. I feel like I’m losing brain cells as I watch, but at the same time, I can’t help but continue to fuel the need to watch the mess play out. 

Many people love to hate on reality TV, but the truth is, there is more good to come from watching it than many may think. According to psychologist Dr. Jana Scrivani, one of the main reasons people get so hooked on reality TV is because of the sense of empathy it often makes us feel. 

“Reality television in particular gives us a false sense that we really know the people we see on the screen. This sense of having a personal relationship is amplified with the ‘reality’ label even though we are aware that it is greatly exaggerated,” said Scrivani.

Scrivani suggests that when someone may be in a bad place in their life and feel disconnected from others, they might start to turn to reality TV. It feeds one’s hunger to social interaction when they feel like they are lacking, therefore creating an addiction. However, it is not uncommon for people to still enjoy reality TV and have a healthy social life. 

Even though it’s not necessarily shocking, constantly watching the drama unfold on these shows can also lead viewers to develop an addiction. Behavioral scientist Dr. Juliette Tobias-Webb suggests that as we constantly watch, we are aroused which leads the brain to release endorphins that are shown to reduce pain and increase pleasure. It gives the same effect as a drug might but without the physical consequences. However, over time, we may become more and more addicted, like a real drug might make us feel. 

“Like any addiction, you build up a tolerance that continuously requires more to get the same neurochemical effect. In the case of the drama, this means you need more and more crises to get the same thrill,” said Tobias-Webb. 

Even though there is much skepticism around how real reality TV really is, one should not feel ashamed if that is their go-to show. There is no doubt that every time you watch it is sure to be an enjoyable experience, and speaking from my own involvement, the more you watch, the more you are going to crave it.