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: “When you unplug you notice things around you a lot more. You pay more attention to the details of your everyday life. You get homework done more quickly. You spend more time with people face to face. You're more likely to go outside and relax. You are less stressed from thinking about everything you have to keep up with online.” -Female, 20, NY

We know that Millennials aren’t turning to traditional sources for news: According to Ypulse’s research, most use social media as their top source, and news websites rank above television. Now Millennial media hub BuzzFeed is creating a new app dedicated to delivering serious news stories to its readers, and hiring a team of journalists to work “round the clock.” The app will be a continuation of the site’s efforts to be a credible journalistic source. (AdAge)

The amount that young consumers are spending on vices like alcohol and junk food depends on where they live. 18-35-year olds in the south spend the most on fast food, with more than 40% saying they go to a drive-through at least twice a week, and the least on coffee compared to the rest of the country. Meanwhile, Millennials in Massachusetts are the most likely to be buying booze, followed up by Colorado and New York. (USA

Millennials are changing the way money is managed, and a slew of startups are rushing to cater to their needs and make budgeting, saving, and investing a turnkey, digital part of their lives. The generation controls roughly $2 trillion in liquid assets and will control $7 trillion by the end of the decade. Though college debt will be a “drag” on their net worth, they’re a group of young savers and over the coming years a “torrent of well-educated Millennials” will be “flooding the ‘mass affluent’ market." (Forbes)

Right now, 67% of Millennials do not feel that any show on TV or online accurately represents them. Can that change? Resident Advisors, a new show produced by Elizabeth Banks, will make an attempt by showing a slice of college life. It’s described as a “workplace comedy set is a college dorm,” will feature an ensemble cast, and could have a digital distributor. (Stream Daily)

Apparently there is a hot new trend online. Some teens are lighting themselves on fire (?!) and posting videos of the stunts to Vine and YouTube with the hashtag #FireChallenge. Some attempting the trend have suffered serious burns, and one video called “Fire Challenge Gone Wrong” was followed up by a “cautionary Vine” in which the teen shows the bandages he is now sporting as a result of his injuries. (Daily Dot)

Exactly how much are Millennials spending every day…and what are they buying? Our tracked data trends have all the stats on that, thanks to our bi-weekly survey of 1000 14-32-year-old Millennials nationwide. Our Silver and Gold subscribers get access to regularly updated charts following average daily spend and items purchased, with spending broken out by age and gender. We do the heavy data lifting for you, and we’re constantly adding new data to our trends. (Ypulse)

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