Select a page

What Makes Reality TV Successful: Trends, Uses, Case Studies

Reality TV / Then
While MTV’s The Real World and Fox’s American Idol may seem innovative, they owe a huge debt to the very first reality show aired, entitled An American Family.
In 2002, An American Family was listed #32 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV shows of All Time list. Airing on PBS in 1973, the show is considered to be the first “reality” TV series. It wasn’t MTV’s Real World like many people think. And frankly, it was a LOT more real than the Real World or any of stuff we call “reality” TV today, which relies on manufactured conflict (let’s purposely put a gay person and a homophobe in the same room!) and silly competitions that have nothing to do with the real world.
Originally intended to be an unscripted, daily chronicle of a nuclear family, the groundbreaking 12-part series documented the Loud family of Santa Barbara, CA, go through a separation and subsequent divorce of parents Bill and Pat Loud. Further, The Loud family was not your stereotypical American family with two/three children, one pet and an American flag waving on the front porch. Instead, Bill and Pat had five children, one of them, Lance, was a gay 20-year old man who occasionally wore lipstick and women’s clothes and took his mother to a drag show. As such, Lance was the first openly gay character on television and has become something of a gay icon.
Upon airing, the show drew in over 10 million viewers and of course, considerable controversy and press. An American Family ultimately put voyeurism on the top of tv producer and productions companies minds and wallets.
Reality TV / Now
Whether you love to watch or hate the fact that they exist, the scripted shows of yesterday have been replaced with the hyped reality programming of today. In all honesty, we all just can’t turn away. From fist pumps to flying fists we have seen families and friends come together and broken apart. We have also seen obese individuals transform into graceful beauties. Every area of life from addiction to fashion is not off limits to the billion dollar business of reality television. However in the multitude of these shows, there are some notables that have changed our culture in how we date, spend time with our families, conduct business, our spending habits and go after our lives. These following honorable mentions have created household names, entrepreneurs, fashion designers, celebrities and believers.
  • The Apprentice: Donald Trump’s ‘you’re fired’ has been one of the most popular saying in our generation. From t-shirts to stickers we are sure to associate ‘You’re Fired with the Donald.
  • American Idol: It has launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks and Jennifer Hudson. Viewers loved to hate Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson & Paula Abdul were spoofed everywhere from Youtube to Saturday Night Live.
  • Survivor: One of the original reality TV shows launched in 2000 made Mark Burnett one of the most successful executive producers in Hollywood.
  • The Biggest Loser: The show that gave us hope and taught us that anything is possible with determination.
  • America’s Next Top Model: Tyra Banks already knew what it took to make it as a Top Model and it was her vision to show us models are just not a pretty face.
Reality TV / What’s Next?



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Marketing 2020
White Paper Download

Please enter you name and email
address below to gain instant access to Marketing 2020!

Contact me to schedule a Marketing 2020 Lunch and Learn