Death and Reality TV: Has Reality Gotten Too Real?

This week, MTV is dealing with the fall-out from the death of one of their reality stars. Shain Gandee, a castmember of the Jersey Shore in Appalachia show Buckwild, and two companions died of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning while going late-night off-roading—a pastime that Shain was often shown enjoying on the show.
 
The death of the reality star has some questioning the future of the show, which had begun filming its second season. But a larger question could also be asked about the future of reality TV at large: has the line been crossed where the fun antics that once drew young viewers in, have too heavy a consequence to keep them watching? Did everything just get a little too real?
 
Young viewers want reality TV that lifts them up, or makes them feel better about themselves through the magic of schadenfreude. But when the scale tips too far in the side of morose, the fun of watching comes to a screeching halt. Reality TV holds a unique place in entertainment for viewers, who love to see “real” people with over-the-top drama, but are wary of being too reminded of the stresses or sadnesses of their own lives while watching. It’s possible that Gen Y viewers could turn away from the genre of reality as it exists now if it continues to showcase the things in life they’d just rather not see.
 
Reality TV charts new territory when it comes to where the boundaries between public and private lie. Though the shows might have a staff of writers, these are real people being featured, so hiding their flaws and tragedies is not a possibility. This is not the first death of a reality star that has been glaringly played out in the public spotlight. Bravo drew criticism for continuing with the second season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after the death of Russell Armstrong, the…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “Already-made costumes usually don't look all that good and are overpriced. Another MAJOR issue is what do I do with that wholly bought costume [after Halloween]? I don't want to store a Hobbit costume all year, or throw it away.” –Male, 27, CA

Kids might still have Frozen fever (bets on how many Elsas we’ll see this Halloween?) but Disney is ready to build buzz for their next princess movie. This week the first artwork for Moana, the story of a Polynesian princess sailing the Pacific, was released, along with news that the film will be out in 2016. Moana will be the fifth non-white Disney princess, which our Instant Poll results today show should align with viewers’ wishes. (Vulture)

High-end designers continue to make children’s clothing to outfit the best dressed generation, and fashion for the pre-teen set is looking more sophisticated than ever: GapKids’ collaboration with kate spade new york and Jake Spade is hitting stores for just two weeks on October 30th, featuring kid versions of some of the labels’ bright and colorful signature pieces. While Gap’s campaign telling adults to “dress normal”missed the mark—and isn’t doing any favors for their sales—we suspect this more whimsical pint sized capsule collection will have parents lining up. (Nitrolicious

How big has The Walking Dead gotten? The post-zompocalyptic gore-fest is so popular that ratings for its first two episodes beat out Sunday Night Football among “the demo that really matters,” viewers 18-49-years-old. Dead’s victory over football could be because this audience thought the games airing weren’t interesting. But if the ratings trend continues, it could be potential evidence that football is losing Millennial fans. (UproxxDeadline)

For teens today, fights in the hallway can lead to much worse than getting detention; students are actually being arrested for misbehavior in schools. Even smaller disciplinary issues like chewing gum, wearing too much perfume, or in one case eating another student’s chicken nuggets, can result in misdemeanor charges. The increased presence of police on campuses, and rise in teachers reporting misbehavior to local authorities, “has turned traditional school discipline…into something that looks more like the adult criminal-justice system.” (WSJ)

Millennial populations in small towns and rural areas might be “ticking slightly upward,” but that growth is no match for the continued trend of urbanization that the generation is spurring. Millennials are also moving en masse to the “fancier suburbs” of big cities, and reportedly Arlington, VA has seen an 82% growth in members of the generation from 2007 to 2013. Small towns feel limiting to these young consumers, who are still flocking to more bustling areas despite the fact that they are more expensive. (NPR)

Our Infographic Snapshots are data visualizations that take our proprietary bi-weekly survey stats and synthesize them to tell a story about this generation’s behaviors and views. From political stances to social media use to spending, we illustrate how many, how much, and how often. These helpful infographics are available to our Gold and Silver subscribers. (Ypulse)

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