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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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I learned to cook through ship to home meals like Blue Apron.” –Male, 24, IL

Some Millennial guys are embracing going gray—way ahead of time. Silver fox hair has joined man buns and merman hair as one of the fads they’re using to express themselves and stand out in the crowd. Though clearly not a widespread trend, Amazon has seen gray hair dye searches increase by threefold in the last year and some celebrities are showing of their silver dos on social media. One stylist tells the Times it isn’t about the natural look: “The demographic of guys who come to me to go gray are doing it more as a fashion statement.” (The New York TimesGothamist

Luxury fashion brands have been targeting teens through Snapchat, which is prompting some to ask if they’re ignoring their core market. Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry have all had recent campaigns on the platform using teen influencers like Kendall Jenner and Brooklyn Beckham. Although the promotions might miss the mark with their traditional older consumers, as well as most older Millennials, the goal is likely to influence today’s more practical young consumers to buy (or ask their parents to buy) entry-level luxury items. One analyst says that “online as a whole now influences over 60% of [luxury] purchases.” (Forbes

Taco Bell wants to be Millennials’ favorite. Despite benefiting from Chipotle’s E.coli breakout and seeing sales rise 4% last quarter, the brand is still looking to make significant changes and continue to improve their image. New menu items like the Doritos Locos and Waffle Tacos were a hit with 18-35-year-olds, and next they’re adding cage-free eggs. Fast-casual is a threat to fast food titans, but Millennials’ craving for cheap eats isn’t going away—McDonald’s is still the most visited restaurant among 20 and 30-year-olds, thanks in part to their value menu. (Business Insider

The struggle is real for Millennials, and the upcoming movie Get a Job is bringing their employment and financial problems to the big screen. The story starts off with two optimistic, bright-eyed college graduates who are in love and ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, they soon face the challenges of a tough economy with layoffs and downsizing. While they alternately lose jobs and tell each other to “step up,” they attempt to make rent, deal with debilitating student loans, and enjoy being young.  (Entertainment Weekly

YouTube is ready to be the next Netflix. YouTube Red, their $9.99 monthly subscription service, is premiering their first original shows next week, and will launch between 15-20 new ad-free shows in 2016, some featuring popular YouTube stars. The platform plans to attain success with cheaper productions, unlike Netflix’s big budget shows, and is going after the younger viewers that grew up idolizing social media stars. With YouTube focusing on the fans, networks are expecting the influencers to help the platform take-off: “There’s a reason why [millions] of people are watching them and it’s not just because it’s free.” (Los Angeles Times

“The issue I am most passionate about is the economy, because wealth disparity is killing the American dream.” –Male, 27, TX

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