I spend a large amount of time defending reality shows on TV. Since watching aforementioned programmes is a passion of mine, I believe it is my duty and a duty of all those who enjoy them, to explain their appeal. My main argument relates to the function of television programs; the sole function of a large percentage of shows on TV is entertainment. Everyone’s tastes are subjective so, entertainment takes various guises, hence why there are multiple popular television genres – from drama, to soaps. If your personal preference is for reality, then that’s all there is to it! It is just as valuable as those who get their kicks from watching documentaries about rare birds (something that I personally would not enjoy at all).
Secondly, each person watches TV to fulfil a certain inner desire; the common desire of most viewers is one for escapism. Many escape the stresses of real life through watching sports, entering into the competitive spirit and burning their frustrations though screaming and cursing the opposing team. Others turn to alternate universes and mythical creatures found in Sci-Fi shows, to escape mundane life and live through the imaginations of talented writers and producers. In my opinion, reality television offers the best type of escapism because it is so light-hearted (some may say ‘trivial), that it allows you to switch off those nagging voices inside your head reminding you of the countless errands you must run, and focus on a form of entertainment that requires no thinking at all and lets you to switch off.
Thirdly, while reality television may offer a lot of screen time to shopping excursions and unbelievably brutal cat-fights, are these any different from watching the shopping channels, or wrestling? In essence, they are not. Furthermore, there are moral and ethical lessons to be learnt from watching reality shows. Our case study will be the Kardashian family, who many know to be frivolous airheads, famous from their sister’s sexual excursions. I would argue, however, that the central theme of ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ is the importance of family. They appear to spend a significant chunk of their time with each other and prioritise family vacations and maintaining close relationships, as well as emphasising the importance of distinguishing between professional and familiar relationships, and maintaining a good work-life balance.
Keeping on the Kardashian theme, this family has not had an easy time; their parents got divorced then their mother divorced their step-father, their father died from cancer, they’ve struggled with partners suffering from various substance addictions, faced troubles conceiving children and, most recently, have dealt with the complex emotions related to their step/father becoming transgender. In particularly the latter issue, they have acted maturely and with love, immediately excepting Bruce’s decision to become Caitlyn and offering their support and love throughout, despite mourning the loss of their father/figure as he became a woman. Not every family would be so open-minded and accepting, and it is a reaction that deserves praise.
While the Kardashian rise to fame may have begun through questionable means, they have proved themselves to be hard working, breadwinners and mothers, and business savvy. Whilst the three older siblings (Kourtney, Kim and Khloe) began with a small clothing chain, DASH, they have tapped into their market and demographic, making the most of their fashion wisdom through producing a variety of perfumes and clothing lines.
Roll your eyes all you wish, but the Kardashians have been hailed by both Forbes and The Wall Street Industry as a successful self-made industry, and the figures speak for themselves: at last count, the Kardashian-Jenner clan was calculated to have a net worth of other $300 million. Not too shabby. Moreover, many of the sisters recently launched their own lifestyle apps, collecting a cool 1 million subscriptions in only a week and topping the Apple download charts for two days straight.
I’ve converted many sceptics to become fans of reality television and you could be my next success story; the next time you return home from work tired, overwhelmed and stressed, kick off your shoes and pour a generous class of wine, then sit down in-front of the TV and watch ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’. They are certainly ridiculous, but you may find a giggle escaping and at the very least, their impressive closets are some serious eye candy. For those romantics amongst you, I highly recommend ‘The Bachelor’, wherein one man dates over 20 women, eliminating a couple every week until he finally proposes marriage. It will make you laugh, make you cry and will keep you hooked, trust me.