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 want to travel to Washington, because I love the Twilight series and I'd love to see the place it's based on.”

—Female, 23, CA

Just how hooked on streaming are Millennials? According to a recent survey by TV tech firm Roku, 50% of streaming service users say they would give up caffeine over streaming, and 21% would rather give up brushing their teeth for a week than give up streaming. The most surprising: 70% claim they would give up social media than streaming. Not too surprisingly, Millennials are especially streaming-crazed: 59% of 18-34-year-olds say they’ve told others they were doing something else when they were actually streaming, and 40% have ditched other plans in order to watch content online. (We’ll be exploring what we’re calling The Binge Effect even further in our upcoming trend report!) (StreamDaily

Millennial women are making strides as entrepreneurs, and using their extra cash to make gains in the stock market, according to a new U.S. Trust study on wealthy Americans. When compared to previous generations, wealthy Millennial women are 3.4 times more likely to be entrepreneurs, and are more likely to have a higher or equal income to their significant other. About one-third of this group also say they are the primary decision maker when it comes to money within their households. They’re also investing more than wealthy Boomer and Xer females: “Millennial women are 2.8 times more likely to use hedge funds, 1.8 times more likely to try venture capital, and 3.1 times more likely to own impact investments.” (Glamour

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah isn’t going anywhere and he has Millennials to thank. Since his start as the new host of the nightly comedy news show , Comedy Central has seen live-viewing numbers drop by about 40% from the last days that Jon Stewart hosted. But they aren’t worried. Young viewers are definitely tuning in—just digitally. When it comes to streaming entire episodes, the new Daily Show is the most watched late night comedy show among 18-34-year-olds, surpassing even Jimmy Fallon’s highly rated Tonight Show. The network reasons that traditional TV consumption numbers are at this point irrelevant, because their “core audience are Millennials.”  (Forbes

A few years of decline among young movie-goers have inspired some to rethink the movie-going experience, but according to theatre ad companies, Millennials are in the midst of a movie-attendance resurgence. National CineMedia has reports that their Millennial movie-goer audience grew 16% in 2015, and is up 8% in 2016 so far. Their data shows that Millennials are 50% more likely to name movies as a passion than the general population, and are the age group most likely to purchase movie tickets in advance. According to a Ypulse monthly survey, 57% of 13-33-year-olds prefer to go to the movies on a night out. (Adweek

Lay’s is bringing Instagram into offline marketing and creating hyper-personal packaging with their “Summer Moments Made Better” campaign. The brand is asking consumers for their favorite summer moments, providing 200,000 codes that allow users to have their Instagram photos printed on a bag of chips, and win prizes. According to the brand: “during the summer, Lay’s plays an important role in [consumers’] lives and in their moments,” and they are hoping to see more social moments focused on food. A similar, smaller campaign, which we covered last year, received “overwhelmingly positive” response. (brandchannel

Quote of the Day: “I really want to visit Tokyo, Japan to see the culture behind the growth of video games, and to eat the food.”—Male, 29, MA

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