Has Reality TV Run It's Course?

TruthCo.'s New Report REINVENTING REALITY: WHERE DO WE GO NEXT? Assesses the State of Reality Television Today

TruthCo. released the definitive report on Reality TV today, REINVENTING REALITY: WHERE DO WE GO NEXT? The report is a comprehensive analysis of the role of Reality TV in current culture and an examination of what lies ahead for the genre.

Ever since the finale of The Jersey Shore's debut season, the team at TruthCo., a brand consultancy led by former TV exec Linda Ong, has analyzed over 850 shows on 50+ networks over the years to decode their cultural relevance, codes and cues. These reports have consistently anticipated important cultural shifts by decoding societal themes, enabling programmers to maximize the cultural success of Reality TV shows. By taking this untraditional approach, TruthCo. has been able to identify changing audience desires and the reasons Reality TV has seemed to have fallen out of favor in U.S. culture.

"Today's viewers, faced with so much choice and so little time, are hungry for something new and different - they're looking for bold risk-takers. And fortunately we are seeing signs of the kind of social experimentation that marked the initial rise of Reality TV, and with it, reflections of the Millennials' influence on mainstream culture - both of which are vital to the resuscitation and sustainability of this genre."

Linda Ong, President, TruthCo.

The team found that in the early years of the economic collapse, Reality TV led and reflected the cultural conversation. But when programmers unapologetically copied shows in order to ensure their success, audience fatigue drove viewers to other genres. This failure to evolve the genre in relation to the major cultural shifts in the U.S. has resulted in a Reality TV rut and the genre being behind the cultural curve it once led. But the REINVENTING REALITY: WHERE DO WE GO NEXT? report shows signs of life in the Reality TV genre.

Summary of Findings: 

· Reality TV continues its retreat into comforting – often libertarian -- ideas about American life; we see this in the presentations of men as masters of nature, family as the only institution we trust, and authority figures as fairy godparents who swoop in to reward people, and just as quickly disappear.

· The scientific establishment has emerged as one of the most polarizing institutions in American political culture (climate change, vaccination and evolution) and we are seeing this reflected in emergent reality TV, which focuses on social science experiments and explorations into past, primitive ways of life, as well as the emergence of nerd - or knowledge - culture. 

· Reality TV remains family-focused and family-friendly, its depictions dominated by families who appear physically imperfect or attractive based on conventional standards, but are in fact the epitome of love and support.


Additional Images