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 use cloth diapers, and a lot of my coworkers don't quite understand this. They aren't condescending, per say, but I do think that they judge my less mainstream parenting style. Also, several of my online mommy Facebook groups can be VERY judgy.” –Female, 26, IL

Last spring Gap made headlines by voluntarily raising the company’s minimum wage to $10 an hour and let loose the viral hashtag #LetsDoMore, which has seen 90 million social media impressions to date. The fashion brand has continued to develop its ethical stance via powerful posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, recently supporting the U.N.’s #HeForShe movement and using social media as an outlet to promote women’s equality in the workplace. Though their “Dress Normal” clothing campaign may be missing the mark, their social media strategy speaks to young women in a way that they can support. (Forbes)

International news outlet Al Jazeera has introduced “Pirate Fishing,” an interactive game that lets players act as journalists investigating an illegal fishing trade. As Millennials shift their focus from traditional news sources, the game intends to bring readers “deeper into the story” for a more immersive experience. Other media outlets are seeing similar value in creating interactive story telling through gaming: BuzzFeed is currently putting together a team dedicated towards game development. (Digiday

The U.S. Navy is looking to mentorship as a way to adapt its highly regimented training routine to fit Millennial work expectations. While Millennials may not want to be friends with their superiors, they want to feel respected and receive constructive feedback, so Gen X commanders have started mirroring parent relationships with students as a way to connect and instill a sense of family values. (Businessweek)

Twilight author Stephanie Meyer and Lionsgate have announced a new project in the works titled “The Storytellers—New Creative Voices of The Twilight Saga”. The series calls for female directors to create short films based on Twilight characters, with the top five being chosen by a panel of talented females that includes Octavia Spencer and Julie Bowen. The final products will be screened on Facebook, hoping to attract new audiences with a social-media-first push. (Vulture)

Moms began ruling social media with the surge in mommy bloggers and online communities, but a recent poll of the demographic shows that social media overload may just be #TMI (too much information). 60% of new moms are considering unplugging completely from social media, and feel pressure to appear to have a perfect life online. When asked to name their turnoffs, Millennial moms named sharing too much and too often, along with too much marketing content on their feeds. (Mediabistro)

Our daily insights article, available to Silver and Gold tier subscribers, illuminates a facet of Millennial culture and helps subscribers to understand the "why" behind the "what." Drawing from our ongoing collection of proprietary data, our deep-dive desk research, and our 10-year history of studying this generation, we figure out what it all means for brands and marketers. (Ypulse)

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