Over the past twenty years, reality shows have been gradually taking up more and more space on the small screen. The abundance of willing participants and low production costs inspired the showrunners to create new variations of the format to fill time slots. Reality television also relies on the public sphere; it has helped shape how viewers perceive the world, and has influenced both politics and public opinion. Despite the fact that most people know that reality shows are misleading, fans still like to indulge in the fantasies they offer and discuss on-screen conflicts.
These shows are often described as fun, but that’s not necessarily the case. While many reality shows are fueled by theatricality and memorable sound bites, there are many others that attempt to offer genuine insight into unfamiliar terrain. Reality TV is an arena for both honest portrayals of everyday life and carefully edited content, and it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between truth and fiction.
Updated July 28, 2022 by Tanner Fox: “From Hidden Camera to Survivor,” there’s something undeniably compelling about reality TV. It’s true that much of what is seen in these series is either exaggerated or outright fake, but suspending distrust allows viewers to enjoy it no matter what.
However, some shows take the phony to a whole new level. From survival cases that emphasize the seeming danger of certain scenarios, to drama series about celebrities that are as fake as reality shows can be, it can sometimes be difficult to get rid of nonsense. Fortunately, other reality shows portray events as they really were.
Fake: Long Island Medium
Long Island Medium documents the life and career of Teresa Caputo, a self-proclaimed psychic. Caputo is best known for her bold personality, voluminous blonde hair and ability to speak to the dead. In her show, she often approaches strangers on the street to give them psychic abilities.
Psychics are often met with criticism, and Caputo is no exception. According to the Daily Mail, private investigator Ron Tebo even went so far as to call her a “vulture preying on the most vulnerable.” Tebo claims that Caputo is engaged in “cold reading”, which is a way to push the subjects to confirm vague statements. Caputo also left the same impression with some once-adoring fans, so it’s safe to say that the medium is probably not as omniscient as she would have us believe.
In Survivorman, Les Stroud is thrown into the desert with a survival kit. By filming himself, Stroud teaches viewers how to survive in the same circumstances.
Survivorman is often called the most realistic survival show on television. The film crew doesn’t follow Stroud everywhere, and he’s pretty much on his own. Although Stroud sometimes embellishes what danger he is in, his show provides valuable insight and information on how to survive in the wild. Stroud is a real godsend, as is his show—at least for the most part.
Fake: Naked and scared
Naked And African is a survival show in the spirit of Survivor, although with an obvious twist. The show takes the participants to exotic places, strips them naked and takes them on video while they try to live off the land.
However, several former participants said that Naked And African are not as frank as they would like. This bizarre adventure is supposedly largely designed to stir up conflicts and create villains among the actors, and the crew also provides the participants with amenities that would not be available to them in the desert. Behind the scenes, they are handed prescription medications, tampons, and even vitamin B supplements.
Real: The last inhabitants of Alaska
Alaska has been a popular destination for reality show creators. Alaskan Bush People, Edge Of Alaska and Alaska: The Last Frontier are just some of the recent shows that have come out of this state. Reality TV series in Alaska often focus on curious characters and portray a somewhat romanticized view of rural life.
“The last inhabitants of Alaska” is a counterbalance to other exaggerated ideas about life in the land of the midnight sun. The show is about the last remaining families living in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The people inhabiting these lands are limited to only seven permitted huts and have access to several modern amenities. Their daily struggle is to survive at any time of the year and avoid packs of stray wolves. They have little desire for fame, and the show is the most honest representation that can be found about people living in harmony with nature.
Fake: RuPaul’s drag racing
RuPaul’s Drag Race involves participants competing in drag racing. Over the course of one season, they demonstrate skills ranging from celebrity impersonation to lip syncing.