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In 2004’s popular entertainment arena the current champions are so-called reality television shows, such as Big Brother, Fear Factor, and Survivor. These shows attempt to depict real life situations within a 60-minute time frame for our viewing pleasure. According to the “Zap 2 It” ratings poles, they have captured the hearts and minds of a large portion of the American viewing audience. But exactly why is America fascinated with these types of television shows?
One of the first reality shows that came into production was Big Brother. This TV drama immediately enthralled people. Big Brother is the summer series that follows a group of strangers sharing a house. This house is equipped with cameras and microphones to record their every move, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From the freedom of their living rooms, viewers are able to peek into the everyday lives of ten complete strangers living together this fully enclosed house.
Another popular reality show currently is Fear Factor. The premise of this weekly show is daredevil stunts and repulsive acts from its competitors. Viewers tune-in to watch Fear Factor for the pure entertainment value. With its car crashes, parachuting stunts, and death defying escape attempts, this show has everything a testosterone charged audience could require for its viewing pleasure. But this show is not for the squeamish, as it contains many episodes with absolutely disgusting stunts which require the competitors to eat stomach-curdling foods.
One of the highest rated shows is the survival-of-the-fittest show, Survivor. Presently averaging 12.4-20 million viewers each week and at the top of the reality shows, Survivor has it all (Zap2it). Viewers are able to peek into the private affairs of the competitors, while still receiving the chills and thrills of life on a deserted island. Also, with the constantly changing terrain from week to week, Survivor enthusiasts always are rewarded with new scenery, and new challenges.
While all the current popular reality shows differ in their approach to their respective viewing audiences, they all contain some type of entertainment value. The value might be in the form of spying on young lovers on Big Brother, watching a contestant eat a scorpion on Fear Factor, or voting a competitor off the island on Survivor. This participation is why reality shows are so popular and have captured the hearts and minds of a large portion of the American viewing audience.
Big Brother. CBS, 2004
Fear Factor. NBC, 2004.
Survivor. CBS, 2004.
“What to Watch, TV Ratings.“ Zap2it.com. 2004. Tribune Media Services, Inc. 28 May 2004 http://www.zap2it.com
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Reality television, Fear Factor, Survivor, Big Brother
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