Complaining about reality TV shows has become as clichÃ©d as the shows themselves. We all know they’re lame, but we love ‘em anyway. Let’s just accept it. In the interest of paying tribute to the much maligned genre, I asked the Answers community for help in tracking down the first of the species.
Now, keep in mind that I’m talking about “reality shows.” Game shows like “Jeopardy” or “Let’s Make a Deal” don’t count. The show should focus on real people in real(ish) situations. All clear? Good.
As a kid, I remember watching “The Real World,” and thinking there was nothing else really like it. Was the MTV show the first of its kind?
Maybe, maybe not. Several folks who responded to my question wrote that “Cops” is the first true reality show. It took actual police officers, followed them around in their cars, and watched them arrest people. If that ain’t reality I don’t know what is.
A few other responders mentioned a show I’d never heard of called “An American Family.” PBS ran it in 1973. Community member EJ writes that the show “was unusual in its focus on a seemingly mundane family named the Louds, who harbored sensational secrets.” Other folks believe the title belongs to “Candid Camera,” while several others mention “The Real World.”
There may not be an easy answer to this one. After all reality is in the eye of the beholder. Some shows that claim to be “real” are as scripted as “The Cosby Show.”
Let’s say you were going to produce your own reality show? What would it be about? What would you call it? Would it have a positive aspect or be complete exploitation? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below.
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