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: “Political correctness is voicing your beliefs but not at the expense of other's identities.”—Female, 15, NY

Young consumers are putting their trust in YouTube. The video platform may feel be “feeling the pressure” from Facebook and Snapchat, but 36% of 18-35-year-olds in the U.K. say they would trust a product review on YouTube over any other media, according to a study from MCN BuzzMyVideos. About 31% trust a magazine review, and only 18% say they trust TV, signifying that for brands putting ad dollars into online video is a smart move, especially since Millennials are spending more time watching videos weekly than they did two years ago, and over half are watching more than six hours per week. (StreamDaily)

For “shacked-up” Millennials, food is a factor in the relationship. A new study from housewares company Moshells revealed that for 18-30-year-old co-habitating men, the biggest “hardship” is having to share food with their partner, and Millennials look for “healthy food in the fridge” when scoping out a romantic interests’ home. The biggest lifestyle change for co-habitating young consumers is spending less time online. That change may be even more disorienting for Millennial men: according to 2014 Nielsen data, Millennial men spend two hours more per week watching videos online than Millennial women, and are spending one more hour weekly listening to online music. (Vocativ

Marriott has created an Innovation Lab Hotel to test concepts designed with Millennial and teen travelers in mind. Throughout their stay at the feedback-focused property, hotel guests can provide thoughts on features like digital check-in with instant-review technology, which allows them to give a thumbs up or thumbs down at every step. Concepts currently being featured at the hotel—like studio workout classes taught by local instructors and permanent spaces for local restaurants and businesses—were inspired by past feedback from Marriott visitors that showed young travelers desire unique, local, and social experiences. (Fast Company

The student has become the teacher in the workplace. Companies are increasingly using “reverse mentoring” to tap into their Millennial employees, and teach older generations tech skills like using social media and crowd sourcing. Target has recently partnered with Techstars—a group that teams up tech startups with large corporations—to teach their leaders how startup employees work in a fast-paced environment, and “scrappily to get things done.” Experts have also indicated the practice helps diminish the negative stereotypes that can plague Millennial employees within their companies. (Ypulse also recommends and facilitates co-mentoring, which gives all generations a chance to learn something.) (Fortune

YouTubers are “creating a new breed of shows” for their generation. Inspired by traditional TV programming and the show Top Gear, a group of British YouTubers are “rethinking some of traditional TV’s big genres” by creating content that “holds up a mirror to their youthful online audiences.” Cooking channel SortedFood (1.6 million subscribers) celebrates the different recipes that can correspond to one dish, and football channel Copa90 (1.2 million subscribers) wants to focus on “fan culture rather than chasing match rights.” The channels continually follow their audiences on social media to ensure followers have a “developmental role.” (The Guardian)

Quote of the Day: “I like Netflix because it helps to pass the time, especially when I'm doing something boring such as folding clothes.”

—Female, 16, IL

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