Why I Hate Reality TV


It’s Saturday night and I’m being forced to watch an awful TV programme in which a group of Z list ‘celebrities’ are attempting to impersonate famous singers to try and win £10,000 for the charity of their choice. The charity focus is designed to hide the fact that it’s a cheap, tacky re-make of a show that existed in the 1990’s, and they’ve officially run out of new ideas. I wouldn’t mind, as the participants can actually sing, but they sound nothing like the person they are trying to emulate, making the show pointless.

I hate reality TV and talent competitions. Actually, ‘hate’ is quite a loose term. I loathe it. Detest it. Abhor it. I avoid it at all costs.

I never used to feel like this. Years ago, programmes that were based on reality competitions were the highlight of my week. The very first series of ‘Popstars,’ in which the band ‘Hearsay’ was formed from the eventual winners was riveting, and I remember my whole family excitedly waiting for the final line-up to be revealed.


When ‘Big Brother’ hit the screens in the UK it initially went unnoticed. However, as time passed it became a phenomenon, helped by the exploits of ‘Nasty Nick,’ and his game-playing tactics in the house. The winner of the first series was Craig, a down-to-earth builder who donated all of his £70,000 winnings to Joanne, a girl with Downs Syndrome who needed an operation. He became one of the most recognised faces in the country, and has managed to carve out a decent career in his trade.

Years later, reality TV has taken on a different dimension entirely. There are two main categories: talent-based competitions and documentary formats.

Talent shows bombard our screens – ‘X Factor,’ ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ ‘The Voice,’ ‘Dancing On Ice,’ ‘I’m A Celebrity,’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing,’ are just a few that have been shown in the last decade. Reality documentaries follow ‘celebrities’ around as they live their privileged lives. ‘Real Housewives,’ ‘The Only Way Is Essex,’ ‘Jersey Shore,’ ‘Geordie Shore,’ ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians,’ and ‘The Hills,’ are just a few examples, and aside from ‘Made In Chelsea,’ (which I watch occasionally when there is nothing else on, much to the annoyance of The Bloke) I can honestly say that I haven’t watched any of them with any regularity or interest – I like to have background noise while I’m working.

There are several things that particularly irritate me:

1. Sob stories: Introductory stories of contestants will usually tell the story of a loss that they have faced. They’ll go into the audition and then we see them crying and praying with their Nan when they are successful, accompanied by the instrumental version of Take That’s ‘Rule The World.’

2. Talent and/or integrity is not necessarily a requirement: A weirdo generally stands more of a chance of getting through in a reality competition because they will provide more of an entertaining line-up. Don’t believe me? Check out Wagner and Jedward on the UK X Factor. It is also not required for a reality documentary format – the perfect example being Honey Boo-Boo. She may be a child, but she is a precocious little moron and it annoys me that she gets publicity when there are children her age who genuinely possess an outstanding talent and aren’t afforded the same opportunities because they know how to conduct themselves like a normal human being.

3. The false praise: I’ve lost count of the amount of times where I’ve seen a judge praise an AWFUL, eardrum bending performance just for the sake of the viewer. While I dislike Simon Cowell, I respect him for his occasional honesty when he informs contestants that they are crap.

4. The same formula: regardless of the subject of these competitions, each follows exactly the same format. Compete, fight, bitch, squabble, one person leaves.

5. They just keep going and going: each series of reality TV programmes always become more extreme. Awkward situations and fights are deliberately caused to make more interesting viewing, and the shows are edited to make conflict seem far more intense than they actually are. Participants almost become caricatures of themselves.

6. Documentary formats aren’t ‘reality,’ they’re set up and scripted, and poorly acted with it.

I think I’ll stick with working through my DVD collection – at least I know they’re going to keep me entertained. Or I could just go and pull all my fingernails out one by one.

Image credit: bangsandabun.com

What about you guys? Do you love or loathe reality tv?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog


35 thoughts on “Why I Hate Reality TV

  1. Countless others including myself won’t find a single sentence in these paragraphs that they’ll disagree with. An entire thesis can be written on how rotten reality television is.

  2. I loathe reality TV with the passion that most people reserve for cold callers and lawyers! The best thing about leaving the UK for me was no longer having to have colleagues who discuss the X factor or stupid masterchef on a daily basis! Great post 🙂

  3. I loathe reality TV. Most of the programs I have seen rely heavily on the “contestants” speaking ill of the other contestants behind their backs, it all seems so juvenile to me. I didn’t like that crap in high school. I don’t like it at work. And I definitely don’t like it in my personal life. Reality TV is a huge reason I stopped watching TV.

  4. I like most competition reality, like Top Chef or Project Runway, because they have to actually produce something and it isn’t (completely) a popularity contest. Yeah, I know, producers can have “input” but since I can’t cook or sew it’s still enough for me to be interested in it.

    Everything else? It’s all a train wreck which, unfortunately, I will turn on when I have nothing else going on or or to just have something on in the background.

  5. I like Cupcake wars, but I could do without the “human-stories” behind it. Really if it was just a british guy describing cup cakes and showing pictures of them I’d still watch completely enthralled.

  6. Some reality shows are mean spirited. Sometimes I watch them anyway. Is admit I really do like shows like Dancing with the Stars, the cooking contests and Project Runway!. Not very much TV is suitable for generational viewing these days!

  7. I’m not as much of a fan of reality TV anymore, for many of the reasons you give. I still watch Dancing with the Stars and Project Runway because I love a good dance and am amazed at the designer’s finished product. The rest have become mostly annoying!

  8. I hate reality TV with every tiny cell in my body. Particularly American Idol, which is awful, was awful to begin with and is awful now. The only two Idols I can remember are Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. Carrie is country western – to call that music is insulting to Mozart. And Clarkson? Never figured out what she does. I heard about Jersey Shore and the Kardashians. I thought the Kardashions were a group from the planet Kar-Dash and I think they are. They all have big boobs and behinds. It must be an alien race.

  9. Totally agree! And they just keep going and going and the so-called ‘celebrities that take part in them just get even more z-list every year to the point that I haven’t heard of most of them. It’s time for TV producers to come up with a new concept!

  10. This all started when TV writers went on strike for not getting residuals from their writing that created the shows. I empathized with their cause but am sad that this was the result. The only one I’ll consider watching is “So You Think You Can Dance” because they are definitely talented and they work really hard, and there is no backstabbing. But I cannot stand the judge named Mary who screams all the time, so I’ve even given that one up. The fact that these shows stay on is evidence of the dumbing down of people.

  11. I’m glad its not just me! You’ve pretty much summarised exactly why I’ve considered putting the tv on ebay before now! When is this reality drivel going to end?? If you’ve never seen the movie Idiocracy, I’d give it a watch. It’s not up for any oscar nominations, but it is a pretty good guide as to where we’re heading as a society!

  12. I quite enjoy “The Apprentice “although I know that Sir Alan will always keep a trouble maker and the one that most of the the other contestants hate, in the show. It brings viewers back, just like having a nasty judge like Craig Revel Horwood does on Strictly Come Dancing.

  13. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have never seen any of the programmes you mention in your blog post. About six years ago, I got rid of my TV, stopped paying the licence and dismembered the Sky box. I have computers but I never use them for such a purpose as I, like you and many others, have absolutely no interest whatsoever in the voyeuristic nature of all of those programmes. I do not watch what my neighbours are doing, I do not care either. I have my own life to live and I cannot waste my time on the wannabee generation we are seeing now. I find the whole thing utterly repulsive!

  14. I’m completely with you. I abhor reality shows. None of them are even remotely close to reality. They’re all staged. It insults me to think that networks think this kind of crap is what people want to see. I refuse to laugh at morons getting rich from acting stupid and I refuse to worship idiotic celebrities that are more famous for their reality show than for whatever minimal talent they might have. These people are caricatures of themselves and it makes the population dumber by virtue of how many of these horrible shows are watched. Hate them.

  15. I’m surprised our culture hasn’t moved on from reality TV. Everyone knows it’s scripted or contrived. Those sob stories pretty much tell us who to vote for. I thought we were a little more postmodern than this.

  16. Couldn’t have said it better myself: reality TV really is, to put it nicely, “equine poop”.

    I have actually stopped watching TV. During the last 6 months my television has been on about five times altogether – so I could watch a nice movie on DVD 😉

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