The Rise of the Ordinary
According to the Oxford Dictionary, reality television can be defined as “television programs in which real people are continuously filmed, designed to be entertaining rather than informative.” (Oxford). This genre first made an appearance in television rankings back in 2000. By 2007-2008 it captured 77 percent of the total audiences (Nielsen). Reality Television started in the early 1970’s with shows like An American Family and Candid Camera. From then, different authors have discussed the evolution of the genre and how its personalities were launched into the world of celebrities. In this essay I will summarize the history of reality television and its celebrities and how the audience views the uprising of the genre. From the beginning, these shows have provided the entertainment without the actors, making it all seem more real and defining the genre as “Reality Television” (Van Elser 96). Most authors, like Sanneh and Van Elser, agree that the genre started to take its influential role when the show An American Family started to gain popularity in 1973. According to Sanneh, An American Family was the first show of its kind. It documented the unscripted life of the Loud family for seven months and compressed it into 12 episodes presented on PBS (Sanneh). USA Today author Whitney Matheson discusses two instances where the show gained its infamy: when wife Pat demanded a divorce, and when their son Lance came out to his family and the world, making him the first openly gay person on television (Matheson). Unlike other stars, reality stars like Lance Loud “outlive their shows, and sometimes find ways to defy them” (Van Elser 96, Matheson). Because of this, Matheson depicts Lance Loud as the world’s first reality TV star. It wasn’t until 1992 and the debut of The Real World that shows started to resemble An American Family (Sanneh). The Real World combined both fiction and documentary forms by filming the lives of a house full...
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