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: “My favorite app is Pokémon Go, because it's kinda a big deal for those of us who've been dreaming about it for over a decade.”—Female, 21, NJ 

The hottest new trend at Millennial companies: student loan repayments. In a 2015 Iontuition survey, eight in ten respondents say they would like to work for a company that offers student loan repayment assistance, and about half say they prefer student debt help over 401(k) contributions. The benefit has also been shown to deter employees from job-hopping and instead stay to “reap the entirety” of it. Despite the high interest, only 4% of companies are currently offering such programs—including Aetna, Fidelity Investments, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and SoFi—but a change in legislation that will make the “benefit more favorable from a tax standpoint” may motivate others to follow. (Forbes

Fast casual restaurant Zoës Kitchen sees kids as the “no nugget generation.” The restaurant is debuting an updated kids’ menu that focuses on a variety of nutritious made-from-scratch meals for the “next generation of foodies,” including salmon or shrimp kabobs, ham and cheese piadina made with fresh mozzarella, and an orzo pasta bowl. The President of Zoës Kitchen, who happens to be the father of two young daughters, say that the kids of today “love experiencing new flavors, and gladly choose kabobs and hummus over fries… Ultimately, they crave food that makes them feel good.” (Business Wire

A new documentary is putting six recent graduates in the spotlight as they navigate the startup world in Detroit. Generation Startup, created by an Oscar-winning director, is revealing the “big sacrifices” young entrepreneurs are making “in the hopes of building something new, exciting and, hopefully, financially rewarding.” The graduates are all fellows or alumni for Venture of America, an organization that assists aspiring entrepreneurs, and are faced with challenges that include working 18-hour days, living in uncomfortable environments, and handling disapproval from parents who encourage a more stable career path. (Fast Company

According to a 2016 Bankrate survey, Millennials are great at saving—but that’s mostly because they have to be. About 62% of 18-29-year-olds are saving at least 5% of their income, which has become even more necessary in unreliable workplaces of today. Employers are increasingly hiring temporary employees or independent contractors, and as a result are not offering benefits like health insurance and paid leave. Many Millennials who can save have also been privileged with access to their parents’ financial help, which white children are three more likely to have than black children. (Quartz

Pokémon mania is passing its peak. Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia data have revealed that “Pokémon Go's daily active users, downloads, engagement, and time spent on the app per day are all well off their peaks and on a downward trend,” which many have observed is expected of any app that receives such intense initial attention. In our recent survey on Pokémon Go players we found that more than half consider the game a fad that no will care about a year from now. Google Trends data is also showing declining interest in augmented reality, however the possibilities of the technology shouldn’t be discounted after so many young consumers showed they will embrace it. (Bloomberg

Quote of the Day: “Political correctness is a two-way street of respect and telling the truth.”—Female, 17, WI

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