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The 'man-made' reality in Reality Shows

Published : Thursday, 8 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 655
Sanjoy Kumar Barman

Television has come up with many innovative ideas to entertain its viewers over the past decades. As the media always works to create new flavours for its audience, it keeps evolving within its own parameters. The recent trends on TV encourage 'reality' to be portrayed on screen but these shows flash a little more than mere real life incidences on screen.

It's more like enacting a script based on a real concept to deceive the audience about its phony existence. The name 'reality show' is paradoxical itself since reality can never be a 'show', and similarly, a 'show', which follows a scripted chronological pattern can never be a real-life picture of actions, emotions or decisions.

Reality shows made their grand premiere and gradually earned a huge fan following. For example, 'Big Brother' (2000) became one of the most favourite entertainment shows for the United States' audience and it became so popular that it got adapted by the Indian media as well. They named their show 'Big Boss' which graced the TV screens in 2006.

It's still running with its eleventh season and its fan following has not decreased but gradually increased with every new season. As the content of the 'show' increased, so did their TRPs, internal clashes, cat fights, new blooming love stories and other spicy entertainment sections makes this one-hour reality show no less than any action thriller film!

'America's Next Top Model' again showed us the 'reality of the modelling world. They tried incorporating the struggles of aspiring models and their stories for the audience to connect to the emotions displayed at the screen emotionally. However, they also promoted the standardized notions of 'beauty myth' as they exposed set body measurements and fashion trends to be the prevailing style trends.

Twenty other countries also decided to follow in their footsteps and thus the audience got 'India's Next Top Model', 'Spain's Next Top Model' and many others. Dancing, singing, or acrobatic, no criteria were left unscripted by these reality show directors as they kept exploiting all categories of performative arts.

'America's got talent', 'Indian Idol', 'American Idol', 'The Voice' and the list will never end; neither will the demand for these constructed realities.

Cooking shows became more famous than most others, as the idle housewives now can learn to try new dishes on TV instead of reading cookbooks. 'Top Chef', 'MasterChef' and many other culinary shows have substituted cookbooks.

The shows have well dressed chefs with fully equipped kitchens and unlimited pantry attracts audience. The dramatic pauses and well timed music provides viewers with their daily dose of suspense as well. The pleasure of watching people work with all latest culinary tools and ingredients conincide with their own desire to work with those.  

Even ghosts were not left un-tormented by these camera holders. 'Paranormal Activities' and 'A Haunting' were also praised by the audience for their innovative touch to reality shows. But, do ghosts use makeup before they grace the screen like other reality show 'actors' whom we call "participants"? Have to check their zoomed faces the next time they come on TV during Friday late night hours!

These scripted truths deceive the mass easily as we let them control our emotions, feelings and beliefs with consent. These constructed realities have become a big part of our daily lives as without embracing them for at least once each day, the days meal seems incomplete!
The writer is studying at Department of English, Notre Dame University Bangladesh

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