Kim Kardashian didn’t invent reality television, but she’s taken the concept to extreme lengths not seen since the infamous game show scandals of the 1950s. These shows are as dishonest today as the game shows were back then. Now it’s time for a reality check.
During the 1950s, contestants of several popular television quiz shows were secretly given assistance by the show’s producers to arrange the outcome of a supposedly fair competition. The goal, of course, was to create drama, play to audience prejudices and boost ratings.
The scandal led to congressional hearings and in 1960, Congress amended the Communications Act of 1934 to prevent cheating, coaching or any other interference in television quiz show contests. Now fast forward to the present.
Reality television shows purportedly are based on unscripted situations and documents actual events. The are supposed to feature ordinary people living real lives, instead of professional actors. But since they underwent a rival in the late 1980s, they have veered far from that concept. Yet they are still sold as “reality” shows.
This season, Kardashian’s show, “Kourtney & Kim Take New York,” has become an egregious example of how so-called reality shows are scripted and manipulated to the point of being abusive and deceptive. Kardashian has used the show to counter the backlash from her decision to divorce husband Kris Humphries after just 72 days and a blowout $18 million wedding.
Humphries has been portrayed in the worst possible light. According to friends he’s appalled at the way Kim has distorted events. Ample evidence exists that Kim faked a scene with her mother and portrayed that event as real.
Humphries is no actor. He’s a real person and the show is having real consequences on his life and threatening his career. He’s booed every time he steps onto a basketball court, even when he plays well. Although the Kardashians may be the worst offenders they are not alone.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reportedly never socialize or interact with each other when cameras aren’t rolling, RadarOnline.com reported.
Camille Grammer and Taylor Armstrong attended fellow Housewife star Kyle Richards’ recent book signing only “because they knew the press would be there, and they would get their pictures taken,” a source told the gossip site. “Taylor and Camille wouldn’t have gone out to dinner with Kyle, these women aren’t friends, at all. It’s all done for the show.”
Yet the show is supposed to be about the daily interactions of real housewives in Beverly hills. In fact, they don’t interact at all. The show is also ruthlessly exploiting the suicide of Armstrong’s husband Russell Armstrong, whose death has been directly linked to pressures from the show.
“These women are all very different, and the only thing they have in common is the show, period,” the source says. “Bravo wants to bring new cast members on board for season three that are actually friends with the ladies.”
The networks that air these shows, mainly E! Entertainment and Bravo, have every incentive to coach the players, fabricate confrontations, fake scenes and create controversy just as the networks did with game shows in the 1950s. It hypes ratings.
But it’s not “reality” and shouldn’t be sold as such. Worse, these shows are destroying lives. It’s clear the abuses are widespread. Congress, or the FCC, needs to investigate.