Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes: Opinion Essay

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In terms of the word ‘reality’ we assume that it is real and authentic. This isn’t the case for most reality TV shows. Reality television is often distorted and fails to display the consequences of the actions committed by the stars of the shows. The events are all staged and the drama is scripted to lure audiences. This can influence us to judge and make decisions based on what we're watching. While reality television is a central source of entertainment for many people, it is still important to question whether the behavior featured on these shows promotes dangerous stereotypes for an impressionable audience. In my opinion, I strongly agree that reality television does indeed promote dangerous stereotypes. I have watched enough reality shows to know that they convey a poor message to viewers. It can stereotype a group of people from an area and make them look bad, and it can influence gender role expectations. All these factors can heavily harm a diverse group of audience.

Reality TV shows are broadcast to a vast population of people around the world. In a way, this can be a good thing if the show has a positive message and purpose. For instance, ‘The Amazing Race’ promotes self-confidence and willingness to go forward and not back down from challenges. It is about a treasure hunt that is played across cities and continents. ‘The Amazing Race’ involves 12-13 pairs or teams who race from point A and reach point B. The team or pair that reaches the destination first is declared the winner. The game format involves traveling to a mentioned location via the means available and completing tasks or taking detours to obtain clues that would lead them to their next destination. The pair or team that reaches a particular destination last is eliminated. This show depicts the values of teamwork and makes the participants come out as strong individuals. Unlike reality TV shows with a negative environment where they stereotype a group of individuals from a city or ethnicity. For example, ‘Jersey Shore’ is about a group of people of Italian descent who want nothing more than to tan, drink, and hook up. Clearly, this show has no purpose or meaning, but unfortunately, many people believe that this is the majority lifestyle of how Italian Americans act. This will lead to families and tourists not wanting to visit a place that looks bad on television. According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult, around 72% of American adults think reality TV shows are fake, and 68% thought it was meaningless. At the same time shows like ‘90 Day Fiance’, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’, and more were the top-watched shows on Sunday night. Even though most reality TV shows promote inappropriate stereotypes, this still does not stop the audience from continuing to watch and making judgments of people based on an episode they have seen.

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The framework of reality TV shows is mainly depicted through stereotypical roles of men and women and the expectations each one has to meet. For instance, in ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’, women are portrayed negatively because the show promotes the over-sexualized nature of women and the need to flaunt one's physical features to get noticed. In the show, they also make it seem that all women are self-absorbed and only think of themselves. This portrays women as shallow. There are multiple episodes in the show where the sisters get a cosmetic procedure done to enhance their facial structure or body. This is encouraging women to get plastic surgery so they can be flawless like the Kardashians. Even though shows like that negatively impact women, women unfortunately still continue to watch them. “Women sometimes watch reality shows even when they don’t have favorable opinions of the genre partly because the pleasure of reality TV for some actually derives from scrutinizing the shows to determine how real they perceive them to be”, said Zoë Druick, a professor of media studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. The same concept goes for men. Men are mostly shown as the money-makers in the household. They’re expected to be wealthy and provide all the luxury needs and wants for their family. In ‘Basketball Wives’, men are portrayed as never being around their family and are accused of cheating multiple times with their partner. This ongoing stereotype of men and women heavily influences our perception of others and encourages us the norms of gender roles.

Overall, it is evident that the majority of reality TV shows do promote dangerous stereotypes. Reality TV shows promote a lifestyle that an average person cannot fulfill in day-to-day life. Most of the episodes you watch are either staged or scripted in order to develop a plot line and encourage viewers to keep watching. These negative impacts can affect both men and women physically and mentally because they compare their appearance to celebrities and influencers. Not only that, but reality TV shows can target a group of individuals and put a label on them. These labels put a stereotype on a group of individuals who are actually part of that society and culture. Therefore, I believe that there needs to be moral limits to reality TV shows so they do not encourage or offend anyone with the wrong idea. People need to be more informed about the reality of reality TV shows.

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Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes: Opinion Essay. (2024, March 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
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