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Reality Check

First there was Blind Date, followed by The X Factor then Keeping up With the Kardashians and The Only Way is Essex to name just a few.  Reality television programmes constantly fill our screens with ‘real life’ drama and the truth is, we can’t get enough of it. Whether we are watching the latest cat fight in The Sugar Hut or following Kim Kardashian around as she lives out her lavish lifestyle in Hollywood, we get to spend hours with our favourite reality stars from the comfort of our own homes. But since when have those over the top sob stories and staged situations kept us glued to our TV screens?

If you ask a lot of people whether they like to watch reality TV they will probably tell you that it is all ‘a load of rubbish’ but for many, like me, it’s a guilty pleasure. When you’ve had a long hard day, you can sit back and relax with a cup of tea and immerse yourself in the lives of others, who more often than not, lead a much more exciting and glamorous lifestyle. Cast your mind back to the time Kim Kardashian ended her 72 day marriage or the time that Gemma Collins told Arg he wouldn’t be getting any of her ‘candy’; these situations don’t happen in the daily lives of your average person, which is why they keep us gripped. However, we are all aware that these programmes can be slightly scripted, as we are kindly reminded at the beginning of TOWIE that some scenes have been set up purely for our ‘entertainment’.  Whilst this may blur the lines between fact and fiction it doesn’t stop us becoming glued to the drama of the reality stars lives.

Now not only do we pay an extra £10 to go to clubs where we get the chance to ‘meet’, or have a quick picture with the reality “stars”, we have even introduced their catchphrases into our everyday language; ‘mortal’, ’tashing on’ and ‘worldies’ are just some of the phrases Geordie Shore have made popular.

One of the biggest reality TV programmes is of course, The X Factor. Each Christmas, we watch everyday people like ourselves fight to win and become the Christmas number one and get that all important record deal with Simon Cowell.  As the trademark theme tune is pumped through our TV speakers, we all sit there with our takeaways and act as the fifth judge alongside Cheryl Fernandez- Versini and Simon Cowell. The X Factor final reached a phenomenal 9.1 million viewers this year to see Ben Haenow take the crown.

Despite our love for these shows, there are definitely some worrying statistics around their popularity. Figures show that more than double the amount of people watch reality TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The Apprentice than vote in the general election. These figures are alarming as they show the amount of interest that people have in these shows, over something so genuinely real and important like the running of our country.

But it seems that these figures are not going to be changing anytime soon, with ITV even creating a new channel purely to air reality programmes. The answer to the all-important question is difficult to answer, why is reality television so popular? Is it because we are all bored of our own lives that we want to immerse ourselves in someone else’s?  Or is it because we love to act as a fly on the wall and watch everyone else make mistakes? Whatever the answer may be, reality television isn’t going anywhere any time soon and one thing is for sure, whether I like to admit it or not, I’ll be tuning in to the next episode of TOWIE to see who has been hooking up with whom this week.

What are your thoughts on reality television?