Opinion: Reality TV is not what it used to be in the 2010s

By Farah Bassyouni Oct 14, 2022

With a housewives spin-off in every city and a different famous family getting a contract for a new show every year, you would assume viewers could get some entertaining content from reality TV, but that is not the case. The 2010s were the best decade for reality television.

On the network E! in 2010 “Keeping up with the Kardashians” was in its fifth season and the network was doing well; they created a number of new shows. “Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami” was their most popular spin-off series. One of the biggest reasons these shows were entertaining was because they felt real. 

I remember watching S3:E1 when Khloé Kardashian went to jail. Kris Jenner was panicked about her daughter having to go to jail and the center of attention was Kim Kardashian taking selfies. That moment felt so unscripted. 

Now when I watch the new series on Hulu, “The Kardashians,” I can tell that every family member has had extensive media training. On the original show it felt like the family ignored the cameras and just lived their lives as usual. Now, it feels like they know exactly what they want to be shown to the world. 

The Real Housewives is an incredibly popular reality franchise on Bravo with 11 American installments, 19 international installments and 23 spin-offs. The show began in America in 2006 with “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” Since then, the show has lost a lot of popularity.

One of the longest lasting, and most interesting installments, has been “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” This show began in 2010 and only has one original cast member today. Even though these shows seem more scripted today than they did in 2010, they still hold a chaotic energy that keeps viewers engaged. 

In 2021, Hulu released a new reality show following the digital star family, The D’Amelio’s. “The D’Amelio Show” follows the lives of the family of four navigating their new fame. The two daughters on the show, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, became incredibly popular on TikTok and now face the challenges that come with overnight success. 

As a huge pop culture fan I had to watch the show. Season one really captures the vulnerability and pure emotion of everyone in the family. I thought they portrayed being in the limelight accurately and in an interesting way. 

When season two started airing last month, I was a little disappointed. The family seemed to have more say in what was filmed and what was not.  I think that is completely justified, but as a critic of reality television, I feel a substantial shift in the show.

While drawing a line between what should be on TV and what should stay behind the scenes is necessary, it means reality TV is on the decline.

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