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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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “I get spending money from helping my neighbors with their computer problems.”—Male, 14, FL

Although controversial to some, influencer marketing isn’t going away any time soon. A new survey by influencer platform Linqia revealed that 94% of marketers across many industries believe influencer marketing to be effective, despite 78% saying that determining the ROI of the approach will be one of the top challenges of 2017. The top benefits cited were creating authentic content (87%), driving engagement (77%), and driving traffic to website (56%). (Adweek)

Vine stars are finding a new home on live stream app Live.ly. The app, a spin-off from the popular video network Musical.ly, generated half a million downloads in its first week by creating a platform where broadcasters can engage with viewers and stream as long as they like—and then there’s the money. According to Musical.ly, the top 10 broadcasters on the platform have made an average of $46,000 in the span of two weeks with a monetization model that lets users make contributions during streams. (Business Insider)

Self magazine is leaving print behind, and going all-digital. The publication has announced that February’s issue will be their last print production, and their new strategy will make them “uniquely positioned to give consumers more of what they love while creating innovative and engaging opportunities for our advertising partners.” The all-digital tactic is a first for a major Condé Nast magazine, and reflects the decreasing interest in print in the digital media era. (The Wall Street Journal)

Teens and kids are embracing tech even more than Millennials. A new Quizlet survey found that U.S. students 16-years-old and younger are 28% more likely than Millennials to say that technology helps them learn faster than traditional tools like worksheets and lectures. Their teachers were even more open to tech: they were 32% more likely than students to say learning tech is good use of classroom time, and 20% more likely to say devices make learning fun. (CNET)

Retirement may be on the outs. According to a Merrill Edge survey, 83% of “mass affluent” 18-34-year-olds say they will still work after they “retire,” “either for income, to keep busy, or to pursue a passion.” Getting to retirement will be a struggle in itself: Half of 18-24-year-olds and 24% of 24-34-year-olds say they will need a side job to reach their retirement savings goal, which three in four believe will be $1 million. (CNNMoney

Quote of the Day: “My favorite thing to do to have fun is stay at home and invite friends over.”—Male, 32, VA

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