No matter where in the world you reside, there is no denying the fact that reality television is all the rage. From lavish lifestyles to deadly drama and everything in between. The main reason reality shows are so popular is because they feed our cultural curiosity―spying on people during their private time. On the flip side, there is a growing number of skeptics. Many believe that every detail is scripted (yet, most still continue to watch) and that the only real thing on reality TV are the cameras. That being said: Is reality TV scripted? Well, here’s my take on it…

No, But…

So, the short answer is no. Most reality shows are not composed of professional actors reading scripts. In fact, that’s the attraction of reality TV as a producer: little to no time wasted on writing and memorizing lines. On the flip side, many moments in these shows are very much instigated if not downright orchestrated. Why is that? Well, it boils down to this: no one wants to watch real reality. While it’s true that people are interested in people’s private lives, most care nothing about the mundane, everyday moments that would be seen if the producers did not intervene. That is to say, the purpose of filming a reality TV show is to walk away with a hit show…a notion that cannot simply be left to chance.

How it Works…

Rather than literally writing a script, producers do things such as instigate issues via confessional questioning and commentary, and orchestrate the outcome by getting the involved parties in the same room within days of pointing out said discrepancies. That is to say, in order to ensure that there is a certain level of drama, the producers utilize a guided line of questioning that is usually geared towards getting them to confront an adverse person or situation. They will then see to it that the person is in the position to be able to confront said issue within days or even hours of said interview/conversation. So, while they are not exactly telling these people what to say, they are the equivalent of a trouble making buddy who manipulates you into fighting a battle solely for their own amusement.

What’s more, this is magnified by the fact that casts of these shows usually are people who were not very good friends to begin with. Rather, these are usually people who live and work in similar arenas, but many of them rarely have if ever, taken the time to hang out and get to know each other. Add to that the fact that they often choose over-the-top personalities which are prone to conflict with one another, and this is a no-brainer recipe for turmoil. Reality TV queen, VH1’s Mona Scott-Young has been notoriously accused of utilizing these methods as a mean of orchestrating her contrived storylines.

Furthermore, let’s not discount the fact that much of the storyline comes from the cast members themselves. Many don’t realize the power of having a television audience weigh in on personal, plaguing issues. Subjects such as commitment, loyalty, marriage, and even reproduction are commonly discussed openly by members of reality show casts as a means of harvesting societal pressure in order to produce a desired outcome. That is to say, one can ignore their wife or husband’s concerns, but it becomes much more tricky when strangers on the street are stopping and inquiring, “So, when are you guys gonna have that baby already?!”

The Bottom Line…

Yes, I may be splitting hairs here, but there’s a huge difference between being scripted and orchestrated. The value of reality TV lies in the raw emotions and reactions of the cast as that is often the one thing that can’t be controlled or faked. On some level, these shows are fictitious. However, from a sociological perspective, this is the closest we may ever get to ethically snooping in on people’s personal lives. Indeed, all too often, all it takes to get someone to act out of character, is to give them an audience.

Venus L

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