How “REAL” is Reality Television?

After reading the working bibliographies of our class last week, I felt like I had to blog about the topic of reality television shows. Personally, I think this is a fantastic topic for a research essay, especially for a class entitled, Convergent Media & Divergent Voices. Aside from the research topic, the example of the reality television show, Extreme Coupon Clipping, on the TLC Network, really got me thinking…how “real” is reality television?

Extreme Coupon Clipping is a reality television show that shows master bargain hunters and their strategies for extreme savings. Some bargainers that have been on the show have saved thousands of dollars within 1 shopping trip, paying only 6 cents for several carts full of merchandise and food. I must admit that I have watched the show and I find it very “interesting” that people can save that much money with coupons and buy unreasonable amounts of merchandise and food just because they can, but “interesting” is quite different from reality.

On the show, the bargainers tell viewers that they spend up to 6 hours per day planning for a shopping trip. As soon as I heard this comment, I began to think like a Communications major and define the terms of Extreme Coupon Clipping television show. The reality is…it is not “real” to spend up to 6 hours a day clipping coupons for a shopping trip. This show does not show reality, but rather it shows extreme lifestyles of a very small percentage of society.

Reality is a world of overstressed people who are working, going to school, have children in tons of activities, and barely have time to go to the store without coupons. Even as a college student, the reality is I have classes 2 days a week, I go to my internship 3 days a week, I am a Resident Advisor 24/7, I am Editor-in-Chief of Touchstone, I am Student Coordinator for a community service program on campus, and I attempt to have somewhat of a life outside of my routine responsibilities. I barely have time to go to the store or even remember to eat most days and that is without coupons. These stories are reality, but yet they are never on television. Could it be that we use television as a place to create a false reality because viewers like to see extremes and watch television shows that create lifestyles different than their own?





One thought on “How “REAL” is Reality Television?

  1. I totally agree with what you’re saying! If cameras followed most people through their daily routine, nobody would watch the show. Reality shows all focus on the extremes. Even shows like The Real Housewives of NY, NJ, OC, etc. they all focus on the extremely wealthy who have a bunch of drama in their lives. I think that people watch the shows for few reasons, one is to make fun of the people on it, two is to make ourselves feel better, or maybe it’s because we wish we had lives like theirs. Also, reality shows are all editing. They take the parts that they think people want to see and take out the boring stuff. I think reality shows have gotten ridiculous to the point where it’s hard to avoid them.

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