Reality TV Has Taken the World by Storm
by Brian Foden
Over the past two decades, the popularity of reality TV has exploded.
If you enjoy watching people trying to win some kind of contest on television, then you are probably a fan of reality TV. While people sometimes disagree over exactly what constitutes such a program, the basic definition is actually rather simple. Reality TV is an unscripted show where people are filmed in actual situations. It's important to note that news and talk shows, sports programs, and documentaries are not included in the category of reality TV.
The first modern-day reality show is generally believed to be The Real World, which aired on MTV in 1992 and lives on to this day. The show features several twentysomethings who auditioned to be on the show and puts them together in a small living space for several months as a camera crew follows every move they make inside and out. The show was initially strongly criticized by reviewers as being dull and uninspired, but it quickly became a smash hit because of the fireworks between the housemates.
Following the success of The Real World, shows like Survivor and Big Brother, expanded the popularity of reality TV even further. More series in a large variety of themes popped up quickly in the 1990s and 2000s, with viewers showing their appreciation by allowing shows such as American Idol to consistently earn high ratings. Moreover, other countries around the world developed their own versions of reality TV shows, proving that, despite the initial response from critics, this type of format has struck a chord with audiences everywhere. Psychologists say part of the reason for reality TV's immense popularity is that viewers can fantasize about becoming instant celebrities themselves one day.
现代最早的真人实境秀一般认为是《真实世界》，于 1992 年在 MTV 频道首播，且直至今日仍在播出。这个节目的特色是先找几个二十几岁的年轻人试镜上这个节目，并把他们放在一个狭小的居住空间一起生活几个月，在此同时摄影团队会拍摄他们在里里外外的各项举动。这个节目最初被评论家强烈批评为既枯橾又没有创意，但因室友之间激起的火花，很快地就让这个节目变得很轰动。
随着《真实世界》的成功，《我要活下去》、《老大哥》等节目也使得这类真人实境秀更受欢迎。种类繁多、更多的系列主题在 1990 年代及二十一世纪初期迅速冒出，观众们对《美国偶像》等节目表示赞赏，也让它们始终获得很高的收视率。除此之外，其他国家也发展出属于自家版本的真人实境秀，这也证明了尽管初期评论家的反应并不好，但这类型的节目还是引起了各地观众的共鸣。心理学家分析真人实境秀大受欢迎的部份原因就是，观众幻想着自己有一天也能一夜成名。