The Reality of Reality Television Essay

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The Reality of Reality Television "The winner of the first Survivor competition is...Rich." It was the name heard 'round the country the night of August 23, 2000, as 51 million television viewers tuned in to the finale of Survivor. The questions, the predictions, the bets, and the reality rested on that one name. For three months, America watched and wondered. Who could it be? Who is the ultimate survivor? With the unveiling of that single, now infamous, name, you could almost feel the country erupt with emotion. The collective gasp of the shocked was shrouded by the cheers and hollers of all the Richard Hatch fans scattered across the country's living rooms and sports bars. But just how real is this reality tv? The…show more content…
Threatened by the astounding success of ABC's gameshow Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, CBS retaliated by developing not just another gameshow, but a reality-based gameshow. In October 1999, the network announced plans to develop Survivor, a show that would "place a group of Americans on a desert island in the South China Sea, off Borneo, for 39 days." The contestants would vote each other off the island, one by one, until only the sole survivor remained. He or she would walk away with $1 million. My initial reaction to this news was horror. "What is the world coming to?" I thought. TV executives have become so desperate as to risk the lives of ordinary people simply for the ratings. There must be some law against that. How could they get away with something as absurd as stranding 16 people on some remote tropical island with no food or protection? But of course, nothing is as it seems at first. The deserted island off the South China Sea wasn't as deserted as CBS would have liked us to believe. There was actually a resort on the opposite side of the island, not to mention all the production equipment and air-conditioned editing cabins that had to be shipped in to produce the show. Even during the 39-day stay, the "castaways" were constantly surrounded by a slew of lighting fixtures, microphones, and

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