Why do we love factual reality?

I have met so many people who love factual reality television. I am also, surprising myself, partial.

Now there are obvious reasons why these shows are so adored. One of the biggest draws is probably their ‘relatability factor’. They portray people trying to get jobs, making relationships, breaking up with people. All of these things are real troubles in young people – the most obvious target demographic.

There’s also another aspect that I think people love. Everyone loves to see into a world which they know they will probably never be a part of. Be it visiting the bars of Kensington (Made in Chelsea) or being a young graduate in Manhattan (Taking New York). You get to see what it’s like: a little peek through a tiny lock into how the other half (or tiny minority) actually live and love.

I mean, another reason people might love it is the people. Never have I seen such a good looking cast for a TV programme.

But, one of the things that I worry about when I’m watching these types of programmes is how the cast are dealing with it. Many of them are very young, very hungry for fame, and just starting out with whatever career they have (usually something like modelling or event planning: these people have a lot of free time on their hands). Being forced into Manhattan obviously isn’t the worst thing that can happen to your life prospects, but what about the mental strain. Being forced to socialise and, dare I say it, date, the people in the cast must be hard.

I imagine the producers would not be too happy if any of the cast refused to forge a relationship with anyone else. Many of the young twenty-somethings are only too happy to oblige. It’s odd because the producers say all the relationships are made naturally, but from the perspective of the people staring in the show, there must be a constant pressure to be interesting.

Whatever the future is for factual reality, I do hope they resolve this sort of paradox. It just seems unfair to force people into things like this. Given a chance to go and live in Manhattan straight after uni is an opportunity few would turn down, but at what cost?


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