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Is reality TV on its way out?

X Factor ratings are down on last year. Have we had enough of reality TV?

Published on September 3rd 2009.


Is reality TV on its way out?
Yes: - 84%
No: - 16%

The new series of X Factor kicked off on Saturday which, despite being the most viewed programme of the evening, saw a decrease in audience ratings by 400,000. It makes this year's X Factor launch the second most successful since the show began in 2006.

They've also decided to use a new format for this year's show whereby the contestants sing on stage in front of an audience as well as the judges. An X Factor spokeswoman put the ratings drop down to the “lovely weather” on the night of the broadcast. But is this year's slight slump the start of things to come?

It can be argued that the reality TV world has gone well past its sell-by date. Take Big Brother for example. After opening its tenth series with nearly five million viewers, the second episode lost two million by the following Friday. And it's no wonder.

There are few shows that can hold a prime-time TV slot for nine years straight. After ten series of Big Brother, six series of Celebrity Big Brother, one series of Teen Big Brother, Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack and Panto Big Brother, we've seen and heard it all. And the spin-offs follow closely behind in the decline. How many more series of shows such as I'm a Celebrity....Get Me Out of Here, The Farm, Back to Reality, Wife Swap and The Apprentice can we stomach?

In an attempt to pull in the viewers, it's also been noted how reality TV participants are becoming more vulnerable. Singer Susan Boyle was admitted to the Priory after her stint on Britain's Got Talent proved to be too much to handle. Sree Dasari was taken to hospital after self-harming following his eviction from this year's Big Brother, whilst Ofcom complaints over Britain's Got Talent finalist Hollie Steel have resulted in a government review of child contestants in entertainment shows. The 10-year-old broke down midway through her performance of 'Edelweiss' on the show.

And if they're not cracking up, most end up in the dreaded bin of talent anyway. Shayne Ward, Chico, Andy Abraham, Same Difference, Leon Jackson, Futureproof, Michelle McManus anyone? Only a precious few have found fame and fortune this way.

More alarmingly, this week the apparent suicide of US reality show contestant Ryan Jenkins, who was wanted in connection with the murder of his former model wife Jasmine Fiore, has raised awareness of the difficulties faced by reality TV stars after their fame fades. Ryan starred in the shows Megan Wants a Millionaire and I Love Money 3 on VH1. His story suggests that it's the 'stars' who will suffer, long before reality TV dies.

We've been mocking and cheering at the expense of others since the stocks of Medieval times, but in the modern age, reality TV has reached a whole new level of absurdity, humiliation and outrage. One of the most controversial shows of all time was There's Something About Miriam. The show featured six men wooing 21-year-old Mexican model Miriam, who didn't reveal that she was a trans woman until the final episode.

Critics called it 'the cruelest reality show idea yet.' The men won a lawsuit after alleging conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, breach of contract, and personal injury in the form of psychological and emotional damage.

MTV now shows as much reality TV as it does music. Past and present shows have included Pimp My Ride, Newlyweds, The Osbournes, Kerry Katona: Crazy in Love, Kerry Katona: What's the Problem, Run's House, Snoop Dogg's Father Hood, I Love New York, The Real World, Rock of Love and many more.

The endless fly-on-the-wall documentary reality TV shows are also testament to the overabundance of the genre. Katie Price and Peter Andre may have separated, but not content with just scrapping their joint show, they've decided to split it in half instead. Katie Price's show What Katie Did Next airs on ITV2 this autumn and Peter Andre's Going it Alone, also on ITV2, had its first episode last week. Does anyone still care? Some must do – Peter Andre's show was the highest rated of this year on ITV2, and so the show must go on...

It seems there are mixed feelings as well as mixed ratings when it comes to the future of reality TV. Should it be evicted from TV once and for all? You decide. Vote on the homepage.

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Wayne BeesleyAugust 25th 2009.

These self obsessed goons need to be where they belong working in B and Q and McDonalds....reality it aint

scousekrautAugust 25th 2009.

TV is 95 per cent propaganda, mind control and social programming. Just like newspapers and Hollywood. I threw mine away years ago.

hugo2008August 25th 2009.

Why do so many so called enteratinment programmes only have so called celebrities on them, lets have more programmes where ordinary people are allowed to express their views to the general public, Possible topic should some one like Jonathon Ross get paid so much money from the licence payers, and why should it be a secret. Do we have far too many MPs in Parliament, other countries dont and save millions of pounds every year.

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