If you’ve ever worked in the television industry or been around people who do, you should be under no illusions as to how real ‘Reality TV’ is. Even if you haven’t, watching five minutes of any modern reality show should let you know that it has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with scripting and selective editing.
Shows like ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ and ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ are crafted deliberately to engage our basic voyeuristic tendencies by engineering gratuitous displays of wealth, sexuality and vulgarity. It has, until recently, worked a treat with a seemingly endless appetite for gawking at rich or stupid people being told to do idiotic things on camera.
However, streaming content providers like Amazon are moving away from supposed ‘Reality TV’ due to serious ‘viewer fatigue’. Reports Bloomberg:
Amazon.com Inc.’s subscription-video service will drop several Viacom Inc. shows, including “Teen Mom” and “Mob Wives,” people with knowledge of the matter said, evidence that viewer fatigue with reality shows is spreading online.
Amazon Prime Instant Video will spend more on original programming and buy shows from other suppliers, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the matter…..Amazon this year also declined to renew a deal with A+E Networks, which supplied “Pawn Stars” and “Storage Wars,” the people said.
This sentiment was echoed by Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, who told investors recently that “The kind of disposable nature of reality, basically doesn’t have much of a long shelf life.” According to David Bank, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets who was interviewed for the piece, unscripted docudrama is “becoming increasingly marginalized,” as demand for programming has diminished and monetization is getting harder. It appears that these streaming services are interested in providing high quality programming on a consistent basis, and are willing to invest heavily in it.
This might just mean that streaming content subscribers are smarter than regular television watchers, but with the final (and long overdue) death of American Idol, the trend might extend to the country as a whole. If the American television connoisseur has finally moved on from watching attention hungry narcissists humiliate themselves on camera, this could do untold wonders to the country’s psychological health.
So a big congratulations to Netflix and Amazon, but mostly to the American public who are no longer so easily amused.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.