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 favorite brand on social media is Complex, because it's more of an online network that reports on urban culture.”

—Male, 23, MI

Luxury watch brands are innovating to cater to what could be their biggest opportunity: Generation Z. A September 2016 survey from Mintel found one in five 16-24-year-olds reported they were thinking of buying a watch “in the coming months,” and that “the young are the biggest buyers of all age groups.” As a result, watch brands are taking marketing online. Omega says that social media is not part of their marketing strategy but “the way [they] communicate.” (Financial Times)  

A group of moms is making hijabs for Barbie to battle Islamophobia. Created through a partnership with the non-profit For Good, Hello Hijab sells $6 handmade headscarves for dolls, available April 1st, along with a card explaining what the accessory is. As one founder explains, the aim is for a more inclusive generation: “They will see it as a kind memory from their playtime, and then they will grow into a kinder generation…used to playing with dolls that look different to them.” Profits from the new doll accessory will go to support multicultural communities. (RT)

Netflix is winning the “steaming wars”—at least on home TV sets. comScore’s analysis into video streamed over Wi-Fi to televisions in U.S. homes found Netflix’s penetration is around 40%, while YouTube, the next most-used service, was less than 30%. Both Amazon and Hulu are far behind at below 20%, but the latter was found to have engagement rates on par with Netflix: “People who do use [them] use [them] a lot…Both services engage their users for more than 25 hours a month.” (Recode)

Chipotle wants to "slyly” promote kids’ healthy food habits with an unbranded video series. RAD Lands, available for purchase on iTunes, follows “the Cultivators” as they try to save the galaxy’s animals and plants, and features cooking segments with celebrity chefs and musical appearances by the likes of Biz Markie and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Described as an “entertainment Trojan horse,” the series is all about educating the next generation while also making a play to win back consumers after the brand’s food-related illness issue. (Ad Age

Airbnb is launching Aibiying, a new brand to target Chinese Millennials. The company’s research has shown an increase of 142% of travel out of China in 2016, and 80% of their users in the country are under 35. The young travelers are also a “lucrative market” according to one expert: "Chinese Millennials are likely to travel farther afield -- and to spend more while traveling—as their disposable incomes and appetite for adventure grow." Aibiying, which translates to "Welcome each other with love,” will include the brand’s latest “Trips” and “Experiences” features. (Inc.

Quote of the Day: “Budweiser ads are memorable because they pull at the heart strings with the horses and dogs.”—Female, 22, CA

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