2020 Ended Reality Shows For Good, So What’s Next?
While the doom and gloom of this unfortunate year has dominated much of the news cycle, many of us have turned to comforting box sets and Netflix series to get us through.
But, as docuseries and million-dollar limited series grow in popularity, there’s one form of television that has fallen by the wayside. That’s right, I’m talking about reality TV.
From a very early age, I’ve had an obsession with reality programmes. Despite being widely dismissed as tacky, shows like Big Brother allowed us to be a fly on the wall as we observe people from different backgrounds and cultures to our own, witnessing the different ways in which they navigate through life.
Long before it spawned into the phenomenon it became, Big Brother began as a social experiment, loosely based on the all-seeing oppressive surveillance detailed in George Orwell’s 1984.
Truthfully, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what it would have evolved into. The show introduced us to household names like Alison Hammond and Brian Dowling, while the celebrity versions allowed us to see famous faces in an entirely different light.
I mean, George Galloway getting down on his hands and knees, and pretending to eat out of Rula Lenska’s hands like a cat, will be etched onto my brain forever.
It was 2018 when Big Brother finally came to an end, after being virtually wiped out in terms of ratings by the newer, sexier and insanely popular Love Island. As soon as the deliciously addictive dating show hit our screens in 2015, millions of viewers were hooked by the Barbie and Ken-like contestants who mugged each other off and searched for their type on paper.
In just a few short years, the hot summer series began to dominate TV ratings, newspaper headlines and social media platforms, as its stars were plunged into meteoric levels of fame, unlike anything seen on reality TV before.
But, as quickly as the show rose to the top, it came crashing back down following the tragic and untimely death of its presenter, Caroline Flack; the beautiful, bubbly, hopeless romantic at the heart of everything the show stood for.
The presenter’s death sent shockwaves across the media and the entertainment industry, particularly given that she was the third person involved in the show to die by suicide in the last two years alone.
While we’ll never truly know all of the details, it would appear that the programme wasn’t directly linked to Caroline’s death, and it even went on for a further season after Caroline stepped down amid her legal battle, with the presenter’s close friend Laura Whitmore taking the helm.
But any attempts to try and carry on with the iconic show – as brilliant as it may be – following Flack’s passing, would leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who loved what she brought to the programme for so many years. It simply wouldn’t be right to carry on without Caroline.
While the fate of the reality show remains unknown, for now, over on the other side of the pond, another iconic reality show shut off its cameras for the final time. In September, Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian announced that Keeping Up With the Kardashians would be coming to an end following the release of its 20th season, after 14 iconic years at the helm of reality TV.
KUWTK was arguably the birth of an entirely different kind of reality show. While we’re used to watching ordinary people at the mercy of the voting public, suddenly we were presented with an all-access view into the lives of what would become one of the world’s most famous families.
Over the years, we’ve been involved in some iconic moments – from Kim losing her diamond earring in the ocean to Khloe’s whirlwind wedding to Lamar Odem – as well as some incredibly poignant moments, like when Caitlyn Jenner saw the family for the first time following her transition.
Now, the family has finally opted to close the door to the cameras – and the show’s millions of viewers – in order to provide a more private upbringing for their children.
For me, while it feels like the Kardashian-Jenner clan have done the right thing for them, KUWTK and all of its many spin-offs will leave a huge gaping hole in the world of reality TV.
Truthfully, I don’t think anything will ever be able to step into the shoes of Big Brother, Love Island or Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and so it’s time to say goodbye to reality TV.
Thanks for the ride.
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