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Have you caught yourself transfixed by the twists and turns of your favourite reality TV show? Perhaps riding a rollercoaster of emotions as you watch the contestants battle it out for love, or dancing, singing or cooking supremacy?
If you’re hooked on reality TV, you’re far from alone. In fact, some might argue it’s virtually impossible to avoid getting sucked in, with reality TV programs from Married at First Sight, to The Voice, The Block, MasterChef, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here and The Bachelor dominating our screens.
While it’s undeniably entertaining, reality TV leaves many of us wondering: ‘why am I watching this rubbish?’
So just why are these shows so addictive?
Professor David Marshall, Chair in New Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Deakin, believes there are a couple of key reasons.
‘One relates to that history of reality programs, that they are designed as if they are versions of ourselves. So that creates the ‘ordinary as extraordinary’ model of celebrity, in a way,’ he says.
The second factor is the rumour and gossip involved in the shows – think of Dean’s recent wife-swapping adventures on Married At First Sight, for example.
“It’s a way which we can … without hurting ourselves, play in a world of rumour and scandal one removed from ourselves,’ Prof. Marshall says.
While we may feel we’re losing brainpower by watching reality TV, Prof. Marshall says it pays to remember that very sophisticated writers and producers are creating these programs.
‘What they’re good at is casting, and that is picking variations of people that will produce variations of content,’ he says.
‘The writers then play with the editors to produce an environment of conflict, of contradiction, of narrative tension and whether it exists or doesn’t you’re just caught up in it.’
Prof. Marshall says part of the addictive quality is the fact audiences are constantly trying to work out what is real and what is false.
So are you addicted to reality TV? Take our quiz to find out.
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