The Serious Faux Pas: Reality TV

In today’s segment of our Serious Faux Pas series, we’re looking at how Millennials’ attraction to the irreverent over the self-serious has changed the reality TV landscape.

 

In early April, Bill Simmons’ Sports Guy Q&A segment on Grantland featured the following exchange on reality TV:

 Q: I'm flipping back and forth between the NCAA tournament and MTV's retro marathon of the 1993 San Francisco season of the Real World. Is this really how people acted in the 90's? These people suck. There hasn't been any sex, barely any drinking and all conflicts have been resolved through open discussions. Did everyone in the 90's take themselves this seriously? Did everyone feel they need to take up a cause? Why are they rock climbing so much? Watching this is making me thankful to be in my 20's now and not then. —Pat, Chicago

 SG: And you wonder why everyone from Generation X is so bitter.

The question (and response) highlights a huge shift in the kind of reality TV that young people want to consume. The Real World has been on MTV since 1992 when the series kicked off in New York. That is 21 years of 20-somethings being documented living together while they stop being polite and starting being real— and a lot has changed.

The early seasons of the show, which many consider the first reality series, were full of earnest Xers making impassioned statements about their views on life and social issues. Serious topics like prejudice, AIDS, substance abuse and sexuality were tackled by roommates who were also figuring out how to live together when they came from such different backgrounds. Flash-forward ten years and the show had shifted considerably to focus on hook-ups, heavy partying, and roommate drama that was more likely to stem from people getting on one another’s nerves than judging…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I put off/dread calling people in general. Everything should be done online by this time!” –Female, 30, FL 

In a continued effort to draw back the teen consumers they’ve lost, Abercrombie & Fitch’s logo will “be dead” in U.S. stores by 2015. Globally, the Abercrombie and Hollister logos and names will still be used on designs, but will be phased out here where the brand knows it is no longer considered a status symbol. Abercrombie’s sales continue to fall, and the retailer is making efforts to appeal to a different youth mentality by removing references to “Ivy League heritage,” making the brand “totally accessible,” and toning down the club-like atmosphere in-store. (BuzzFeed)

Following heartbreaking stories of the death of toddlers forgotten by their parents in hot cars, automakers made claims that they would be working on new technology to help prevent the tragedies. But years later that technology has not been produced, so parents and teens are developing it instead. Independent entrepreneurs are working on a slew of solutions for baby on board tech that would stop hot-car deaths, including car seat sensors, smartphone apps, and low-tech solutions. Many are seeking backing on crowdfunding sites to make their products a reality. (Washington Post)

Ck one was an iconic ‘90s product, but the brand has kept up with the youth market in order to stay relevant with a new generation. The fragrance, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, relies on social media platforms, including Snapchat andTumblr, to attract Millennials and stay engaged. When creating their latest TV ad, they invited all participating talent to take behind-the-scenes pictures, selfies, and video, which were then used to “seed” the new campaign on social. The Snapchat campaign has “seen more than 1 million views in just a month and a half.” (Mediapost)

Just a few years ago, Hollywood was incredulous that YouTube was anything more than a collection of amateur vloggers, and certainly most didn’t believe that it would change the traditional entertainment world. But now, YouTube has become a “Hollywood hit factory” for teen entertainment. Smaller companies that realized the platform’s potential early have grown massively, big studios are snapping up YouTube studios to get in on the action, and programming is in the midst of  “rapid consolidation.” Our social media trend tracker shows that as of March 2014, YouTube has become the number one platform teens use, with 89% telling us they use the video site compared to 80% who say they use Facebook. (Businessweek)

Earlier this summer, a report that fewer teens were interested in getting summer jobs than ever before had older generations rolling their eyes at the slacker youth who “don’t want to work.” But new research indicates that it might not just be that lazy kids these days want to spend their summers taking selfies: It could be that teen jobs don’t pay off the way they used to. Millennials with summer jobs don’t see the future wage increase that teens in the ‘70s and ‘80s did. (Vox

Every day we deliver Millennial insights to your inbox, but every quarter, we look at some of the larger trends happening within the generation—and why they matter to brands. Our Gold subscribers have access to the Ypulse Quarterly report, an in-the-know guide to Millennials that synthesizes the major trends and stats we’ve seen over the last quarter of the year. We take a close look at the "why behind the what" and provide in-action examples and supportive data, along with implications for you to take away. (Ypulse)

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