Reality Shows: redefining REALITY by Laveena Iyer

I used to be a person who couldn’t resist glaring at the idiot box all day long. The USP during childhood was cartoons, as I entered my teens it changed to Mtv and as I progressed to adolescence I wish I could say something but this viral phenomena that has plagued every channel….yes! you guessed it! Reality shows– they were responsible for my break up with my TV set. I can’t even begin to tell you my undying hatred for this television show format that has ruined my television experience. Whichever channel you flip on, be it a music channel, a Hindi or English entertainment channel, a travel & tourism based channel…there you have it! A glamorous handsome host with those eager, puppy eyes, enthusiastic, ready to make fools of themselves on national television participants!

I have nothing against talented people getting a platform to prove their talents, but what really ticks me off is the whole concept of faking emotions, difficulties, etc that ensures high TRP rates. Let’s begin with singing or dance based reality shows. Shouldn’t these shows be about how the participants learn through their journey and get recognition for their amazing talents?But no, we have to add in a little emotional story about a participant’s poor economic condition (even if it’s embarrassing for him) not with the noble intention of making people applaud his talent despite a financial crunch but we need the audiences to connect with the contestant and feel his pain..is this a reality show or a K-serial on Indian TV? The elimination of a contestant, I understand is a painful experience for the contestant, but even if the contestant is willing to leave on a positive note, they play that dramatic sad tune from funeral scenes of old Hindi movies. The most effective way to garner high TRPs however, is violence; proved from the popularity of shows like Big Boss and Roadies in India. A few tempers flare, a vocabulary of desi abuses introduced to the audiences(for no rhyme or reason), an uppercut here, a punch knocking you out back there….put in a little more abusing…you get the idea!

I can understand why people participate in the above mentioned shows, the money factor is irresistible and who cares if you make a fool of yourself on national television, 1 year later on the next season of the show audiences will forget your face as there are new clowns to entertain. But What I fail to comprehend is, why do people participate in shows like- Splitsvilla, Cheaters, Emotional Atyachaar, Swayamvar, Big switch, and Sach ka Sammna ? Why would one want to display their love life, family drama for the whole nation to see? Thus, I don’t think twice to conclude that most of these shows are pre-scripted. The crocodile tears, the expressions of shock, fear, surprise, anger, betrayal so beautifully executed! Another annoying thing about the reality show trend is most of the Indian reality show formats are badly copied American shows; whatever happened to originality and creativity? Today, we have reality shows for anything and everything- best bathroom singer, best celebrity couple managing babies, best bully, celebrity who can live a village life, hubby who can manage without wife, Bingo nights, etc…

I would like to conclude that I have nothing against reality shows, I believe they in some way fulfil a common person’s dream of winning a big ticket to fame or coming on TV. Unfortunately, I also believe in Santa Claus, Bloody Mary, leprechauns and their pots of gold….. I’m sure you get my point! But yes, honestly, I believe a show format different from the usual fiction is essential for entertainment but it must have a sensible format and purpose… a lot of the reality that it apparently promises!

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