Being a GenYer myself, I have to admit: I just love reality shows. You name it, I’ve seen it: The Bachelor, The Kardashians, The Real Housewives, Jersey shore, Geordie shore… (and I can keep going for a while). And I do not only speak for myself, because it is a fact: Generation Y is obsessed by reality shows. I’m sure all of you have already seen one of the shows mentioned above and that you loved it as well. But what makes us so obsessed with reality TV?
Millennials are the most diverse generation to date; they are more accepting than previous generations and their digital connections have made it a less intense struggle to get along with other young people from different backgrounds. This shift from face-to-face to more online interaction results in an increased need for ‘a certain daily dose of drama’. Add the fact that Gen Y is the most stressed of all generations and has an increased need for escapism in entertainment; more preferably, the kind of entertainment where content and characters are lighter, more absurd and more frivolous.
And it works! According to an article on YPulse, Jersey shore (by chance my favourite reality show 😉 became MTV’s most viewed series in the channel’s 30-year history by just showcasing characters whose main concerns were getting drunk, hooking up, having fun and not taking anything or anyone too seriously.
However, not only do we love the ‘empty’ content of reality TV, we love the reality stars even more, especially because they are ubiquitous on social media, just like we are. With a growing access to these stars’ lives, we get daily updates of their comings and goings through Twitter, Facebook & Instagram, which makes us feel like we are literally right beside them. It allows us to feel like we’re just staying up-to-date about the lives of the girl or boy next door.
And it feels pretty good, as Generation Y has a higher self-esteem and a higher need for self-realization and uniqueness than former generations. Proximity to the famous is a way of receiving this recognition and status for the self. The continuous media and peer benchmarks, as well as society and parents stimulating Gen Yers to turn their life into a success story affect their thinking and behavior. And that’s where the obsession with the world of reality TV began…