's first season as so compelling because it perfectly capitalized on our interest in the manipulation that drives reality television. The show raised the questions many of us ponder while watching shows like : Why do smart, articulate women come on dating shows? Why would someone get so drunk (or act so bitchy or cry so much) on camera? What person in his right mind thinks he can maintain relationships with a dozen girls? How extensively can a moment be edited, taken out of context, or invented by production? And as a scripted series, was able to explore possible answers to those questions too. We saw the motivations of the show's participants, the motivations of production, and the often catastrophic results when those motivations clashed. We got our look behind the curtain, and it was every bit as gory and complex and (irony of ironies) as we'd always imagined — even if it was at times .
There are lots of potential reasons for America’s obsession with reality shows, even beyond watching bachelors and bachelorettes win over suitors by way of roses. With reality TV comes a more interactive viewing experience. We can call in to vote for our favorite contestants on American Idol or follow treasured on Twitter. Reality TV is “much more seductive (than other types of programming) because it seems much more real, much less orchestrated,” says , a professor of communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State University Park. We can tweet at pretty much any celeb, Sundar says, but reality TV viewers eat up the idea of interacting with a presumably “real” person not bound by a script.
I am therefore obsessed with reality television
COPS premiered in 1989. The reality show allowed us a voyeuristic view into police patrols. (It also introduced us to one of the greatest theme songs of all time.) Then the Real World presented us with the (allegedly) true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and do all sorts of unmentionable things. Now we’re obsessed. Turns out the psychology of reality-TV-watching is more complex than keeping up with the Kardashians.