(Picture from ok.co.uk)
It’s always fascinated me how obsessed people are with Love Island and reality TV. I’d like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person (although if you saw how silly I was in my recent Youtube video, maybe you would disagree). Yet, here I am, absolutely obsessed with TV shows like The Kardashians and Love Island. Thinking about this has always made me wonder. What IS it that makes us want to watch the lives of “ordinary” people so much? Granted, the Kardashians hardly lead a normal life, but people in Love Island and Big Brother start off as nobodies and we are just as happy to watch them. We even clamber to buy merch like Love Island water bottles, and Love Island albums, in a bit to be a little bit more like our reality TV idol.
The idea of “reality” TV has actually been around a while. We might think shows like The Hills paved the way (by the way, is anyone else SUPER excited for the reboot?), but reality TV was around long before Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag threw down. During the olden days, there were plenty of talent shows like opportunity knocks that paved the way for things like X Factor. But why are the general population SO OBSESSED with watching normal people?
We relate to and empathise with the characters
When you are watching a film, it is always in the back of your mind that the actors are playing a character. But reality TV, even though it is probably as scripted as a film, is always sold to us a “real”. It’s much easier for us to relate to someone sitting in a pub we always visit ourselves on TOWIE talking about their breakup than it is watching someone in a flashy Hollywood film talking about their breakup. We also watch films and TV shows with a certain detachment, knowing the situation has been written by a writer and created for a purpose. But when we watch reality TV we believe that these situations are REALLY happening to the characters. Unfortunately, 50% of the time they probably are not. But we really do believe that, so it makes us feel much more of a bond with the characters and much more able to relate to what they are going through.
It’s aspirational for us
Kim Kardashian wasn’t exactly a “nobody” before she made that tape, but she certainly didn’t have the lifestyle she has now. And look at Mark Wright. Let’s face it – he was a bit of a helmet on TOWIE and now he is living the dream in LA. Seeing ordinary people go from nobodies to huge stars gives us the belief this could happen to us too. Especially seeing as a lot of reality stars do not excel in anything. Granted, they work hard. But a job where you don’t have to have any actual talent? sign me up!
It’s an easy watch
It really doesn’t take a lot of brain power to watch reality TV does it? I tend to pop something on in the background while I’m working, and although I can’t watch anything like Stranger Things or a film that would require me to think, I can put The Hills on and happily follow along while LC and Heidi are having a huge spat. It’s escapism, plain and simple. When Love Island rolls around I really love reading all of the tweets form people who deem themselves above it. Some of the most intelligent people in the world like reality TV, and that’s fine! You know smart people don’t have to be thinking about algorithms 24/7 to be classed as smart. They deserve a break to (I was going to write “we” here but didn’t want to be big headed).
We are a nosey species
I’m not a nosey person in general. I’m too lazy to be nosey and far too selfish. Being nosey would actually require caring about someone else’s life. But as a species, oh my, humans are NOSEY man. Do me a favour right now. Check who has watched your Insta story. I’m sure there are people on there that are a bit of a shock to you. Even I have been caught about 6 months deep in someone’s Insta who I met randomly at a rave at times. It’s in human nature to be curious, and now that social media exists that curiosity has the means to go into over-drive. So when ITV say they are going to dump some beautiful people into a villa, force them to couple up and then film the fall out, we are all here for it.