Once upon a time, reality television shows were considered revolutionary. “The Real World” was one of the first reality TV shows, and it took off — and maybe even started MTV’s downward spiral away from showing actual music.
Now, reality TV is the norm. It seems like everyone and their cousin has a reality TV show or has been on one. From average Joes competing in game shows to celebrities airing their dirty laundry, everyone is cashing in on the craze.
Since the market is so saturated, it may be hard to see what could be next for reality programming. What more could people show? Here’s what we see for the future of reality TV:
Shows like American Idol (link to British imports) introduced the idea of audience interaction through texting and calling in votes.
More and more reality shows are encouraging audience interaction, and we expect the trend to grow beyond game shows. Audience members could vote on where families go on vacation, weigh in on family squabbles or even help choose the name of a new baby, among other things.
Everyone with a smart phone can make videos and post them to YouTube.
The future of reality TV may not actually be on television. Some YouTube content creators have millions of followers and rake in more money than some TV actors. Some of those YouTubers make videos about themselves, and those who don’t are feeling the pressure to so that their audience can get to know them better.
Reality TV viewers know that most people are chosen because they fit a “role” and that much of what they say is prompted or put together through heavy editing.
Most people would not be shocked to learn that people were also given a loose script to follow. Mockumentaries like The Office have already proven that shows shot in the style of reality TV can be successful even if they are actually fictional.
One thing’s for sure: Reality TV will have to evolve or die before the next big thing comes along and replaces it. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.