He Said She Said: does reality television do more harm than good?

He Said She Said: does reality television do more harm than good?

Vincent Schultz, Lindsey Matylewicz, Opinion Editor, Advertising Manager

Vincent Schultz:

From “Top Chef” to “Teen Mom,” reality television is one of the most prevalent forms of entertainment on television today. With the various categories of reality TV spanning numerous networks, it’s impossible to say that reality television outright does more harm than good.

With shows like “Jersey Shore” and “The Real Housewives” garnering much attention from audiences nationwide, there seems to be a misconception that all reality television is vulgar, inappropriate, and sexual. Yet there are many popular reality TV shows that can foster creativity, inspiration, and remain in good taste.

Some of the more popular reality shows that do more good than harm are transformation based shows like the “Biggest Loser.” The series chronicles the hardships of those struggling with weight loss and the positive results that follow with treatment.

Another form of positive reality television are cautionary tales such as “Intervention, “Hoarders,” and the “Teen Mom” series.

“Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” are shows which follow young teens as they embark on the trials and tribulations that come with being a mother at an extraordinarily young age.

Though many have claimed that the shows have glamorized teen pregnancy, The New York Times recently published an article stating that teen pregnancy is at a record low since the airing of the first episode of “16 and Pregnant,” which aired on June 11, 2009.

These types of reality TV shows are breaking the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality that has led to countless unplanned and teen pregnancies throughout the years.

Though reality TV can glorify obnoxious and lewd behavior, it also can bring about a positive change and impact on audiences.

Viewers have a responsibility for filtering and determining what good and bad reality TV is. It is through this type of responsible viewing that will show reality TV does more good than harm.


Lindsey Matylewicz:

Some of the most popular shows on television today are reality shows, but more often than not are shows that result in meaningless drama, are false through semi-scripted episodes, and are harmful to devoted followers.

“Toddlers & Tiaras,” for example, centers on beauty pageants with children contestants competing, sometimes against their will, to see who is the fairest in the land. Can anyone else see the image and identity problems these children will have in the future?

I simply cannot watch entertainment that I know is pointless, even harmful, drama.Something else I would try to avoid are the semi-scripted reality TV shows.

For example, the cast of “Duck Dynasty” has admitted on “The Today Show” that the “Dynasty” is what they call “guided reality,” where a group of writers gives the cast situations and problems to react to. Not only as an audience member does a fan feel lied to, but what are the chances that every reality show is fake or just a lie to keep its viewers watching?

Whether shows are or are not scripted, they have a lot of potential to hurt die-hard fans. “Jersey Shore” is a reality television show that highlights the lives of a group of 20-something people who party every night on the beach.

We forget sometimes how easy it is to shape a young person’s behavior through the media they consume. When children watch “Sesame Street,” it is because we want them to learn how to be friendly with each other and how to master the alphabet.

When they watch “Jersey Shore,” they just as easily pick up on the wild, sometimes violent behavior and could end up copying their beach town heroes.

All in all, reality television is ridiculous, unenjoyable drama, that in some cases, is not even real. These two factors result in a potentially harmful combination for those followers who wish to live the same lives as these “actors.”