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: “A wedding trend I have noticed is not having a photographer, and just having friends take all the pictures.”—Female, 18, CO

For Millennials, buying coffee is “an emotional experience.” A recent study by custom coffee roaster S&D Coffee & Tea also found that for 18-34-year-olds sustainability can elevate that experience. Though only 22% of Millennials say they know what “sustainability” means when it comes to coffee, 45% said they think highly of coffee brands that sell sustainably sourced products, and 25% said they would go out of their way to get it. But coffee brands are warned not to just slap on a label: “Use of coffee terms as mere labels will render them powerless to sharp-eyed Millennials who are increasingly skeptical of unsupported language.” (MUNCHIES

The body positive movement has empowered teens to embrace the plus-size industry. Purchasing of plus-sized clothing by 13-17-year-girls has nearly doubled over the past four years as more options have been made available by brands, according to an NPD study. But popular plus-size blogger and designer Gabi Gregg says there is still room for the market to grow: “I’m always hunting for styles that are a bit more fashion-forward and trend-driven, but that encompass classic silhouettes. I cannot find them easily at this point.” Forever 21, ASOS, and Eloquii have all expanded to plus-size lines, and Target’s curvy collection Ava + Viv drove the retailer’s plus-size offerings by 30% in 2015.  (Teen Vogue

Millennials are leaving anti-wrinkle creams in the dust, and sending the beauty industry scrambling. The rise of selfies has motivated Millennials’ desire for immediate results from natural or clinical products, driving an increase in the cosmetics category by 13% for 2015. But prestige skin care, which includes products for fighting lines and wrinkles, only grew 3% in 2015, and is no longer appealing to the generation that is embracing a “a beauty-from-the-inside-out approach.” While their younger age is a factor, experts say there is also a shift in attitude, and the new generation is more likely to embrace “who they are”—including lines and gray hair. (WWD,POPSUGAR

Millennial dads are the future of retail, according to a recent report from Mintel. The stereotype that men dislike shopping has led brands to look past them and towards the coveted Millennial mom demographic. (Something we’ve warned against.) It turns out, however, that young dads enjoy shopping with their children. About eight out of 10 Millennial dads surveyed said they prefer to shop with their kids, and 74% said going shopping is an opportunity to bond. They also see it as a chance to pass along lessons to their children: 74% said their kids know the value of a dollar. (Business Insider

MIT students have created a robot chef. Spyce Kitchen, a fully automated restaurant that cooks and prepares food in under five minutes, has won a food technology contest and is currently in place at MIT’s dining hall. The robotic system can run on its own—other than needing ingredients to be restocked by humans—and is able to measure ingredients, monitor food temperature, cook the ingredients, and then serve the meal in a bowl.  Students can order meals like mac and cheese, stir-fry, and jambalaya, via touchscreen or mobile app. (Eater)

Quote of the Day: “There's been a resurgence in the home cook, and that's been my biggest interest. There's increasing amounts of high-quality, interesting produce and recipes to use.”—Male, 29 ,NC

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