The Reality of TV

For years, TV was focused on learning and the idea that viewers need to take something educational away from a television show. Well, this has definitely changed! TV now is purely for entertainment purposes. Sorry, but educational shows don’t get ratings, and we all know it’s about the $$.


In the article, The 40-Year Transformation Of How TLC went from The Learning Channel to Home of Honey Boo Boo, Kirsten Acuna looks into how TLC has changed, but not really why it’s changed, except to appeal to a mainstream audience. It almost seemed like the article was written to promote TLC’s upcoming new shows lol.

Charles B. Slocum of the Writers Guild in his article, The Real History of Reality TV Or, How Allen Funt Won the Cold War, discusses how reality TV is “ the ultimate peek into the neighbor’s kitchen window. Or, the bedroom window.” Lol. The article really did a great job of walking us through the inception of reality TV dating back to the 1940’s with Candid Camera.

Slocum draws a different conclusion of why reality TV is so prevalent, “The economics are too attractive to ignore. Reality makes for cheap TV.” He elaborates on how budgets are cheaper; therefore; production teams get more bang for the their buck.

Sister Wives Portraits

I watched the show Sister Wives. I’ve heard of this show throughout the years, but haven’t had the time to sit down and watch it. I think it’s usually on Sunday nights, which conflicts with my other reality TV line-up: Keeping up With the Kardashians and Real Housewives of Atl.

Sister Wives consists of a family of Polygamists who are  from Utah, but bought a whole block in Vegas where the family now resides. There is 1 man, 4 wives, and 20+ children. The show gives viewers a first hand look into a life of Polygamy. At first, I thought, “oh hell no, I could never do that!” but as I watched a few episodes, I really noticed a sense of love, and family. They seem to put the typical social construction of “normalcy” to the side, and do what works for their family. As Mormons, polygamy is not a new concept and to some, is considered a normal way of life.

Most importantly, the children seem healthy, happy, and loved. The family seems more than financially capable of providing for multiple families. Kody, the dad, must be a baller of some sort, cuz each wife has her own house, and he just pops in whenever he feels like it. Imagine how much their monthly bills are?!! Crazy.


I think overall, the sense of family and bonding really triumphs all the other emotions like jealousy, anger, and selfishness. I personally always felt like if a person can take care of their kids, emotionally and financially, then by all means, have as many kids as you want! Now the single moms who have 7 kids, and live off government assistance paid for by tax dollars is another issue for me.

On Sister Wives, and shows like 19 Kids and Counting, the kids seem happy, loved, and financially taken care of. The wives on Sister Wives do have issues with one another at times, but I think that is normal. No family gets along 24/7. The wives do have arguments, but at the end of the day they are all there for one another. I just know I am not the type who is willing to share, lol. I am too selfish to make time for another woman to sleep with my husband at night. Hell no! But, I think since these women were already raised in the Mormon Church, they are conditioned from a young age to believe that this lifestyle is acceptable, and is a great way to live. And… maybe it is… idk; I’ve never tried it. Too each there own, and whatever makes them happy!

Best reality show ever: Love N hip hop Atlanta 🙂

I think people religiously watch reality TV, and shows like Sister Wives, because it gives viewers the ability to view life outside their 4 walls. It’s not every day we run into a family of polygamists, and even if we did we wouldn’t get an in-depth look into their family dynamics and home life. We wake up with the family, we see their candid moments, and we as viewers start to feel as if we truly know and relate to them as people. Without reality TV, this wouldn’t be possible. And unlike fake scripted shows, reality TV is REAL! I mean yeah, scenes can be positioned to address certain things going on at the time, but overall I do not think Sister Wives are actresses hired by TLC, and all 20 children are actors/actresses as well. If it was scripted to that extent, the Internet would pull the cards on the show, it would lose credibility, and no one would watch anymore. People watch reality TV, because it is something we would never be able to see in our immediate life, and it’s real life at it’s best!

Another epic Reality tv series I’ve followed for the past 6 years is Teen Mom. A study showed that since the show aired teen pregnancy rates have gone down.

Here Tyler and Caitlynn who gave up there daughter for adoption meet her for the 1st time..


8 thoughts on “The Reality of TV

  1. Dude the effects of reality shows are so real! The team mom thing is so trippy because at first you might look at it as exploitive but really it shows how crucial it is to plan pregnancy out. Some of the couples were perfectly well adjusted and living the life they want to live but you can clearly see the strain in others.


  2. Oh terrific. Now I’m going to end up watching “Love and Hip Hop.” What is this craziness?!
    This is a terrific post with useful insights. I enjoy your writing much!
    For a sec, let me push back a bit about the reality of reality TV. Reality TV picks one curious topic and leaves hundreds of others untouched. With that topic in mind, the makers “cast” the show, interviewing hundreds of potential “real” families or hip hop musicians and choose the ones with the best screen appeal. Sure, these aren’t “actors,” per se. But they are screened and chosen with certain qualities in mind — and they don’t have to be paid as professionals. (As you say, $$$!)
    Show makers have also been known to influence behavior of these “real” people when show is being filmed. In some cases, booze administered in vast quantities to keep things interesting. (One example of many is “Hell’s Kitchen”: And then … of all the footage gathered, the video is edited to tell a story that the makers think will work for the audience. So yeah. I’m guessing that you similarly don’t feel like you’re really glimpsing into the home of the average well-adjusted uber-rich polygamist family or the average family with 19 spiffy kids, etc. It is “reality at its best,” as you say, which might gloss over some of the actual strife of, say, sharing your husband with other women or having 18 siblings.
    That said, these topics make intriguing content for we voyeurs. You write a fun, thought-provoking post, Jessica. Thank you.


    1. Thank you Deidre!! & yes, yes, and yes, I agree with all of the above. Reality TV definitely casts the characters that are the most entertaining. It’s definitely not the average rapper, or the average anything, but the MOST entertaining, extreme, type there is. They also do set up the atmosphere at times, saying “let’s film in the strip club today” “let’s address this situation”, and etc. This reminds me of the show Preacher’s Daughters. The first couple of seasons it was the girls in their hometowns, dealing with the normal struggles, and people in their normal lives (arguing with parents about sneaking out, and being hung over at church, the usual..) anyway… This last season, which I HATED!, they obviously thought the original set up of the show wasn’t entertaining enough, so they cast a whole new cast of girls I didn’t event know; therefore, cared nothing about. They then take all these new girls, ship them down to Cabo, fill the house with alcohol, and let it all unfold. Again, I hated this season, and so did others online. It took away from the authenticity of the plot-line. It was way too forced. Of course there were arguments, and fights, and preachers daughters drinking, anyone in Cabo for a month would do this! The producers set it all up for drama, and I watched about 30 min of the entire season and thought, “wow, this is garbage and way too set up.” Also, I do agree with your point on the editing. I will watch my reality shows and I’ll notice there will be a scene 2 episodes later where cast members are wearing the same exact outfits they were in episode 1. I can see that the producers thought that the discussion going on in the scene fit better in episode 4 LOL. I personally try and keep a keen eye, but it is sooo hard because these editors and producers are pretty good at what they do!


  3. Great post ! Couple of things jumped out at me that you said like ” Sorry, but educational shows don’t get ratings, and we all know it’s about the $$” I think you are completely right. It is all about the money hey if a show doesn’t make money then cut it. That is the mentality now even though educational shows can help kids and keep kids away from other junk on tv. Another thing is your right what the heck does the husband do for a living that he can afford a couple of houses and be able to maintain 20 kids. man you would think the husband would work all the time. Great Post i really liked the humor and how you put gave some good opinions.


    1. Thank you Eddi! 🙂 I actually looked up what Kody Brown does for a living and I guess he is some head honcho of a media marketing company. crazy, he must make bank lol


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