Celebrity reality shows: Why do we care?

Over the past several years, celebrity reality shows have increased on television due to their popularity. Now, it seems like any celebrity can have their personal and public lives followed around with cameras for weeks to document every detail of their every day life. MTV first introduced The Real World in 1992, which depicted the lives of seven strangers living in a house to document how they all live together and get along. Shortly after the airing of The Real World, the first celebrity reality show was introduced. The Osbournes set the standards for many other celebrities to document their rock star lifestyle. Soon, other celebrities such as Anna Nicole Smith, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie had reality shows on television. At first, it was interesting to see how famous celebrities live their daily lives. It provided mindless entertainment to watch celebrities we like and to relate to them. Soon after, it seemed like every celebrity had their own television show! PEW Research says Reality TV shows are, by a wide margin, the least popular trend tested in the poll; 63% say these shows have been a change for the worse (Pew Research Center).

Why do people care about reality shows? Reiss’ (2004) sensitivity theory suggests that individuals prefer to watch shows that arouse the joys most important to them. “People who are strongly motivated to socialize, for example, should be especially interested in shows that portray groups, fun, or friendship. Those strongly motivated by vengeance should be especially interested in television programs with aggressive content” (Reiss & Wiltz, 2004, p. 370). People are attracted to watch people that they can relate to.

Why do celebrities feel the need to have own their reality shows? The media exposure has the potential relaunch careers. Kim and Kourtney Take New York show the Kardashian sisters opening up a brand new store in New York. The reality show is exposing their store in order to promote business and attention. Aubrey O’Day, formerly from the band Danity Kane, has recently launched a reality show of her own in order to relaunch her singing and acting career. Tabloids exposed negative press about Aubrey, which allowed for her reality show to reach out to her fans and the viewers to give her a second chance.

We care about celebrity reality shows because it is mindless entertainment after our hard day’s work, which allows us to escape from reality. The dramatic story lines and plots entice us enough to watch the next episode even though there are other educational television programs we could be watching. Showing previews after each reality show has to top the latest episode in order to attract a larger audience. Are they trying to attach us to our own emotional needs? By displaying their materialistic items and famous lifestyle and flaunting it to their fans and viewers? What do you think?

-Aimee Caneva


Pew Research Center (2009, Dec. 21). Current Decade Rates as Worst in 50 Years: Internet, Cell Phones Are Changes for the Better. Retrieved from http://people-press.org/2009/12/21/current-decade-rates-as-worst-in-50-years/2/

Reiss, S., & Wiltz, J. (2004). Why people watch reality TV. Media Psychology, 6(4), 363-379


About mcjblogproject

Amy Block and Aimee Caneva are students in the Mass Communication and Journalism department at California State University, Fresno.
This entry was posted in celebrity, reality shows, television. Bookmark the permalink.

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