Death and Reality TV: Has Reality Gotten Too Real?

This week, MTV is dealing with the fall-out from the death of one of their reality stars. Shain Gandee, a castmember of the Jersey Shore in Appalachia show Buckwild, and two companions died of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning while going late-night off-roading—a pastime that Shain was often shown enjoying on the show.
 
The death of the reality star has some questioning the future of the show, which had begun filming its second season. But a larger question could also be asked about the future of reality TV at large: has the line been crossed where the fun antics that once drew young viewers in, have too heavy a consequence to keep them watching? Did everything just get a little too real?
 
Young viewers want reality TV that lifts them up, or makes them feel better about themselves through the magic of schadenfreude. But when the scale tips too far in the side of morose, the fun of watching comes to a screeching halt. Reality TV holds a unique place in entertainment for viewers, who love to see “real” people with over-the-top drama, but are wary of being too reminded of the stresses or sadnesses of their own lives while watching. It’s possible that Gen Y viewers could turn away from the genre of reality as it exists now if it continues to showcase the things in life they’d just rather not see.
 
Reality TV charts new territory when it comes to where the boundaries between public and private lie. Though the shows might have a staff of writers, these are real people being featured, so hiding their flaws and tragedies is not a possibility. This is not the first death of a reality star that has been glaringly played out in the public spotlight. Bravo drew criticism for continuing with the second season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after the death of Russell Armstrong, the…

 
 

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Quote of the Day: “My 2017 resolution is to improve my dog's confidence- She's somewhat fearful.”—Female, 28, PA

At some malls, teens “have worn our their welcome.” Cases of teens banding together on social media and going to malls to create chaos have reportedly been increasing over recent years. To avoid giving consumers another reason to shop online, some shopping centers—105 in the U.S. according to the International Council of Shopping Centers—have responded by imposing curfews and bans on the young consumers. The legality of such restrictions has been called to question, with the ACLU working to fight discrimination at play. (LA Times)

Millennial parents are getting by with a little—ok, maybe a lot—of help from their own parents. A TD Ameritrade survey has found that 19-37-year-olds who have kids get $11,000 on average from their parents through financial support or unpaid labor, and more than half get assistance through childcare or housekeeping weekly. But the assistance isn’t one-sided: three-quarters of 50-70-year-olds with Millennial children say they’re glad to help, and four in ten Millennials say they help their parents too, with an average of $2000 in 2016. (USA TODAYBusiness Wire)

The NFL is looking outside their traditional playbook to reach young fans. The league has partnered with AwesomenessTV for In The NFL, a new series that “lifts the curtain” to give a behind-the-scenes look at the sport. Since "a 17-year-old girl doesn't want to watch the same content as her mom or her dad,” some episodes have a young female focus, with one starring YouTube stars the Merrell twins taking a tour of a stadium, and another featuring one of the few female owners in the NFL, Kim Pegula, offering career tips to young women. (Adweek)

Can the future generation of shoppers save brick-and-mortar retail? Maybe. A new IBM and National Retail Federation study has revealed that 67% of 13-21-year-olds shop in-store most of the time, while another 31% occasionally buy from them. One analyst notes that their desire for “hands-on experience” is setting their preferences, but lack of credit cards and life stage are also likely forces deterring them from online shopping—and we predict that if fintech solutions are developed with teens in mind it could be a fatal blow for physical teen retailers. (RackedBusiness Wire

The sharing economy may be impacting Millennial spending. Research by Hammerson and retail consultant Verdict found that more than half of Millennials used a sharing economy business like Uber or Airbnb in the last year, compared to 16.2% of those over 35-years-old. Nearly a quarter of Millennials say they aren’t concerned about home ownership and would be content with renting for the rest of their lives, and when compared to those over 35-year-olds, they're two times more likely to agree that there are some products they don’t need to own and would prefer to rent. (Forbes

Quote of the Day: “My 2017 resolution is to live my life the way Carrie Fisher would have wanted me to.”—Female, 21, TX

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