Reality Television: Is it Destroying America?

Updated: May 26, 2020

For many, reality tv can be a source of entertainment and escapism, but how much is too much?



I was reading this article recently and I begin to think…


Is Reality TV Ruining America?


Actually, it wasn't the article at large that caused me to think about reality television. It was something else, but first things first.


If you read through the article, you'll see that MSNBC news anchor Rachel Maddow explained to the president on Twitter why he led what she called "the worst national response of any industrialized nation in the world, in what is now the largest COVID-19 outbreak on earth".


She followed that comment with a lengthy critique of what he did, why it was wrong, and what she considered to be the best path forward.


Now, you may disagree with Maddow and that's fine. Everyone has a right to their opinion.


Whether she was correct or not isn't the issue here. I'm just noting that she structured an intelligent and detailed argument about the president's response to the coronavirus.


So I know what you're thinking... what in the world does this have to do with reality television???


...everything we consume has an impact on our attitude, our relationships, and what we expect out of our leadership.

A little clarity

It all becomes clear when you read the comments below the article. In one simple, yet all too revealing statement, a commenter wrote that Maddow's argument was invalid because her show brings in low ratings.


So there it is... an intelligently structured argument was dismissed simply because of the notion that she hosts a show with low ratings.


The Rachel Maddow Show is hardly a low rated show, but even if it was, would that be a legitimate counter argument?


Maybe it is... we've elected a president who is a former reality television star with no experience in public service, and our current treasury secretary is a Hollywood producer. So why not invalidate a well structured political argument based on television ratings?


How did we get here?

The Media Research Center published some statistics based on a Girl Scout Institute survey of 1,000 girls between the ages of 11-17. This is some of what they found:


  • 25% of reality tv viewers expect to become famous


  • 37% of reality tv viewers believe you have to lie to get what you want

(Only 24% of non-viewers believe the same)


  • 37% of reality tv viewers believe you have to be mean to earn respect

(Only 25% of non-viewers believe the same)


  • 28% of reality tv viewers believe you have to be mean to get what you want

(Only 18% of non-viewers believe that same)


  • 78% of reality tv viewers believe that gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls

(Only 54% of non-viewers believe the same)


Is it any wonder that we have national leaders who spend their time quarreling, focusing on ratings, and entertaining their constituents as opposed to serving them?


And should we be surprised when some people attempt to invalidate arguments based on television show ratings?


Unfortunately, much of reality tv glorifies dysfunction. We tend to internalize the media we consume; therefore, everything we consume has an impact on our attitude, our relationships, and what we expect out of our leadership.


Where do we go from here?

Is this a case of life imitating art? It may be radical thinking, but I believe it's beneficial for society as a whole to place a premium value on things that build up society.


The world functions better when people strive to be the best they can be and to make the world a better place.


Art can go a long way toward achieving that goal when artists seek to inspire, encourage, and generate hope to the entirety of society, to all audiences and participants.


Maybe we can agree to do that.


What do you think? Is reality television causing these problems? Am I way off the mark? Should all art serve to inspire? Don't forget to let me know in the comments section below...