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: “I unplugged from Facebook and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is such a time suck. I have other online sites that I can browse to relieve stress or take a break from work without having to see what some random kid in high school is eating for breakfast.” —Female, 23, PA

Last summer we noted Motorola’s vision of tattoos as password and identity authentication in our spotlight on the future of passwords, and now the first iteration has hit the market. Motorola teamed up with VivaLnk to create temporary tattoos—circuits wrapped in adhesive—that can unlock the Motorola X phone with a simple scan. Though the wearability is impressive, lasting up to five days on skin even through exercise or being submerged in water, remember that wearable tech must be beautiful, and the copper swirled fingerprint has ended up “looking a bit like a mole.” (TechCrunch)

Reebok and…bacon? Though health and fitness might not be synonymous with salted meat, Reebok is celebrating its athletes in the 2014 Reebok Crossfit Games with a Paleo diet-friendly treat. Targeting the “tastebuds of the Crossfit community,” Reebok’s pork product is free of nitrates, preservatives, MSG, and sweeteners, and will be delivered to attendees in boxes or via a branded food truck. Audience members can follow the truck on social media with the hashtag #reebokbacon to catch prizes and special bacon menu items rolled out throughout the games. (Creativity OnlineFast Co. Create)

Having grown up in the age of internet piracy and file sharing, many Millennials treat music and photo copyrights as flexible, downloading and swiping various content to share on social media. But using copyrighted music in videos shared with over 6.7 million fans has caused trouble for Michelle Phan, the makeup tutorial YouTube star who is now being sued by Ultra Records. Ultra owns rights to music from a slew of EDM artists that Phan has used in her tutorials, but some artists are tweeting out in support of her and challenging copyright laws to modernize. (Adweek)

Campbell's hit a peak in popularity with the Boomer generation, but instead of reviving the soup brand for Millennials in their 20s and 30s, Campbell's is looking to create an entirely new snack line for the kids of Millennial parents. The company will expand its Bolthouse Farms brand into Bolthouse Kids and tap into the tremendous growth of fresh-packaged snacks made for the on-the-go lifestyle of Millennial moms. Fruits, veggies, ready-made smoothies, and even Greek yogurt are in the works for hungry Plurals. (WSJ)

We identified Next Level Fandoms and Pre-Dev Engagement as two major Millennial trends in our Q3 2013 Quarterly Report, and Hasbro has joined these forces together for its SuperFanArt project. Dedicated fans can design and buy 3D printed figurines inspired by their favorite Hasbro brands, the first being My Little Pony. Encouraging the “mini-creator mindset” opens the door for pre-dev engagement and could create excitement around new Hasbro products and custom toys. (Kidscreen)

Looking for a quick Millennial stat to get you up to speed before a strategy session? Searching Ypulse is the best place to start! Silver and Gold members have access to 10,000+ articles, 20,000+ curated Millennial news items, 2 billion peer-generated opinions from our mobile, social Q&A network, and thousands of statistics on Millennials drawn from our bi-weekly national survey of the generation. Your search can begin and end with us. (Ypulse)

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