The Serious Faux Pas: Reality TV

In today’s segment of our Serious Faux Pas series, we’re looking at how Millennials’ attraction to the irreverent over the self-serious has changed the reality TV landscape.

 

In early April, Bill Simmons’ Sports Guy Q&A segment on Grantland featured the following exchange on reality TV:

 Q: I'm flipping back and forth between the NCAA tournament and MTV's retro marathon of the 1993 San Francisco season of the Real World. Is this really how people acted in the 90's? These people suck. There hasn't been any sex, barely any drinking and all conflicts have been resolved through open discussions. Did everyone in the 90's take themselves this seriously? Did everyone feel they need to take up a cause? Why are they rock climbing so much? Watching this is making me thankful to be in my 20's now and not then. —Pat, Chicago

 SG: And you wonder why everyone from Generation X is so bitter.

The question (and response) highlights a huge shift in the kind of reality TV that young people want to consume. The Real World has been on MTV since 1992 when the series kicked off in New York. That is 21 years of 20-somethings being documented living together while they stop being polite and starting being real— and a lot has changed.

The early seasons of the show, which many consider the first reality series, were full of earnest Xers making impassioned statements about their views on life and social issues. Serious topics like prejudice, AIDS, substance abuse and sexuality were tackled by roommates who were also figuring out how to live together when they came from such different backgrounds. Flash-forward ten years and the show had shifted considerably to focus on hook-ups, heavy partying, and roommate drama that was more likely to stem from people getting on one another’s nerves than judging…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “Music is an integral part of my life. A day without music is a bad day.” –Male, 16, MS

We’ve told you exactly what a day in Millennial and teen’s mobile use looks like, and now the Mary Meeker Internet trend report has even more stats on their phone addiction: 87% of 18-34-year-olds say their smartphone “never leaves [their] side, night or day.” They also think phones are the key to the future: three in five believe everything will be done on mobile devices in the next five years. (Time)

The YouTube Kids app may have high reviews, but an FTC complaint against the video platform reveals that the line between marketing and content is blurring more than some are comfortable with. Consumer groups are objecting to the (very popular) unboxing videos being included on the app. The clips, which feature kids and sometimes adults opening toys, could be interpreted as commercials for the product. (CNN Money

Oreos is getting weird to promote their new S’mores cookies to Millennials. The brand has released a series of PSA-style videos starring a mascot called S’morey The Unidentified Forest Creature and featuring “throwback ‘90s-style animations.” The spots, which will run on social media, are absurdist scenarios where S’morey puts out unusual campfires and doles out Oreos. (Adweek)

The legend of the entrepreneurial Millennial may be more hyped than factual. New data shows that while startup activity in the U.S. has increased overall, fewer 20-34-year-olds launched new businesses in 2014 than did 19 years ago. Student loan debt is likely contributing to their lack of entrepreneurship, and as we’ve said for some time, their risk-averse natures weigh heavily on their career decisions. (CNBC)

We're living in the age of the reboot, and marketers are trying to play off young consumers' nostalgia by bringing back retro campaigns and mascots. KFC was confident their revival of Colonel Sanders would capture the hearts of Millennials, and so far it looks like they may be right. According to the brand, the response has been about “80% positive” and they’re very happy that people are talking about the chain again. The Colonel was revived after it was discovered 60% of Millennials had never eaten at the chicken chain. (Business Insider)

72% of 13-32-year-olds are interested in travel. How do we know? Every month we reach out to our panel of over 60,000, asking 1,000 Millennials and teens about their behaviors, interests, current events, seasonal trends, changing attitudes, and new norms. The results of these monthly surveys are delivered to our Gold subscribers, and can be downloaded from our site. (Ypulse)

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