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 think when I'm a parent my top concern in raising a child will be, in general, just not screwing them up." –Female, 14, MA

It is becoming common practice for busy Millennials to skip breakfast, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like breakfast food. In fact, this generation is more likely than others to eat breakfast at times other than traditional morning hours, and 16% are pushing back their mealtime to use breakfast as an afternoon snack. Their adventurous food preferences are influencing the “premiumization” of breakfast items, but since we know that the majority of Millennials enjoy cooking, there is also opportunity in "speed-scratch" products for the 65% who prefer to make breakfast foods from scratch. (MediaPost)

In the past three years, Lego has seen its consumer base change from 90% boys to 40% girls, thanks in part to its Lego Friends collection of girl-targeted construction sets. Activity kits like Rainbow Loom and GoldieBlox, along with licensed Frozenmerchandise, have helped drive the surge in sales for girls toy divisions, whereas action figure movies have begun to cannibalize each other in the boys toy aisle. (Kidscreen)

In the Age of Not Believing, images online and in magazines are almost assumed to be manipulated, but one Millennial is speaking out in support of imperfection. The fashion blogger behind the site Do The Hot Pants posted a reveal of images before and after Photoshop, admitting that she posted edited images to her site that decreased the size of her stomach, legs, and smoothed her skin. While she lifted the veil on her use of Photoshop and is advocating for better body image perceptions, her transparency might make some even more skeptical of what they see on user-created blogs. (BuzzFeed)

The #IceBucketChallenge for ALS is still going strong with participation from celebrities continuing to snowball, but no one’s nomination has seen as much viral traction as Bill Gates’ video. The tech genius decided to step it up a notch with a specially designed ice bucket contraption, and his behind-the-scenes take has seen over 8 million views in the past four days. (YouTube)

The social media landscape has seen a number of standalone apps fail, often due to resistance from users to migrate themselves and all of their friends to another platform. Instead of creating another Snapchat look-a-like, new app Camoji is using iMessage to send GIF selfies. The short video selfies send and loop seamlessly within iMessage, elevating the selfie into animated expressions that can also be shared as a URL link to non-iPhone users. (Mashable)

Quote of the Day: "I haven’t had children yet because I have a lot to accomplish—academics, career goals, travel destinations—before I settle down and look to someone else's interests.” –Female, 25, PA

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