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…

 
 
Ask Millennials some questions.
Log in to get started...

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


Millennial News Feed

Quote of the day: “I’m single and I’m okay with it.” –Female, 15, MA

Ypulse’s January monthly survey found that 55% of 13-32-year-olds say that the one tech device they cannot live without is their smartphone, and that makes dying batteries a major issue for mobile-dependent young consumers. As app usage increases, battery life quickly decreases—but a new solution to the perpetually dying phone battery is here. Ikea has announced a line of tables, desks, and lamps that will be able to wirelessly charge some mobile devices—simply place a phone on the surface and it begins to fuel up. The furniture is due to hit European and North American stores in April. We expect the design of products and spaces will likely continue to shift to accommodate smartphone addictions. (Wall Street JournalRefinery29)

Who knew a tweet could be worth so much? The marketing power of social media users could be validated by a new study that reports a single tweet, when sent out one to five weeks before a film’s release, can add $560 to a movie’s opening weekend box office numbers. Catchy tweets illustrating intentions to see the movie or encouraging others to watch are worth $4,420 four weeks before the movie’s release. More than 30 million people reportedly tweet about movies each month, and this could be valuable information as Hollywood struggles at a time when there are increasingly more entertainment options for young consumers. (MediaPost)

A recently released study on young consumers and cars claims that “once Millennials gain spending power, the auto industry is going to be turned upside down.” A reported 47% of Millennials believe that cars, and which brand of car they own, really matter. The findings contradict the common perception that young consumers don’t care about cars and are choosing ride-sharing companies or the urban bicycle movement over their own vehicles. The study reports that Millennials have a “surprising affinity” for Volkswagen and Tesla, for its use of technology and commitment to social good. The research also predicts this generation of car owners will “prioritize brands based on alignment with their own personal values.” (Huffington Post)

Although 58% of 13-17-year-olds said eating healthy is extremely important to them in a 2014 Ypulse monthly survey, it can be hard for teens and tweens to make the right nutrition decisions. Research has found that despite attempts to bring more fruits and veggies into school lunch rooms, six out of 10 kids “won’t even touch a healthy option on their plate.” One study suggests that food presentation makes a difference in fruit and vegetable consumption, and putting vegetables before other food in the lunch line can get them to eat more. For teens, linking healthy eating to something they already care about can help encourage better diets, while the counting calories approach actually leads to unhealthier eating. (Medical Daily)

Kid content is ruling YouTube. Six of the current top 10 most popular YouTube channels are children-focused, making the launch of the standalone YouTube Kids app look like a pretty smart move. Funtoys Collector, the toy-unboxing channel, is the most viewed creator on YouTube, usurping PewDiePie as the site’s biggest star, and showing the power of the unboxing trend. The six children’s channels in the top 10 earned almost 2 billion views in January alone, and YouTube’s top 100 channels saw viewing increase 110% in the last year, from 7 billion video views in January 2014 to 14.7 billion in January 2015. (The Guardian)

We don’t just deliver data. Along with our bi-weekly survey result data files, we provide our Gold subscribers with a topline report that synthesizes hand-picked, illuminating data points and our insights and expertise. Interesting differences between males and females, older and younger Millennials, ethnicities, and more are highlighted, and relevant statistics are streamlined into an easily consumed, concise, visual takeaway. (Ypulse)

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies