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PR Consultant, Lindiwe Charles, shares more about reality TV and its bad reputation
Reality television has always had a bad reputation – and for a good reason. They are essentially social experiments meant solely for mass consumption and entertainment. Participants’ desires for love, fame or money, are put under the microscope for us to scrutinise in the comfort of our homes.
The infamous show Love Island has had a series of bad press from the tragic and untimely passing of two contestants and, more recently, its host. Conversation is now being had of the adverse mental effects of such an instant rise to fame and exposure to great public scrutiny. Certainly, these events alone are more than compelling arguments to completely do away with reality TV.
However, after watching the Internet’s latest favourite show, Love Is Blind, after years of hiatus from reality television, I do see the reasonings and merits behind reality television.
The premise of Love Is Blind is to find out how much physical attraction plays a part in our search for romantic partners. Contestants speak behind a wall, only getting to see each other once a proposal of marriage has been made. I watched this show purely for leisure and superficial reasoning, but instead received interesting takeaways about reality TV as a whole.
One of the standout moments came from how women are still perceived to carry out the emotional labour of making a relationship work. The men were presented in a one-dimensional manner, yet the women had a series of issues that needed to be resolved for the relationship to succeed. This is very telling of the strides still need to made in gender equality.
The show’s “villain”, Jessica, did not receive much sympathy from the public. Her portrayal on the show was less than ideal and she received quite a lot of criticism online. However, as a friend pointed out, we have all been a Jessica at one point or another in our relations with others. Therefore, when confronted with such characters on television, we can use it as an opportunity to understand whether we have ever displayed similar character traits. An impromptu therapy session ensued under my bed covers. Although uncomfortable, it was necessary in confronting issues and learning more about myself.
Although we cannot ignore or downplay the harmful effects of reality television, I think there is redemption to be found in the medium. Reality television can be used as a great tool of self and societal improvement, if used in a way of picking apart and addressing our own patterns rather than tearing a participant down on social media.