Different Types of Reality Shows
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Different Types of Reality Shows

What are reality shows? Can reality shows be scripted? Are reality shows scripted? What are the different types of reality show? Are some reality shows fake? What are some examples of reality shows? Can shows such as Survivor be scripted? There are many types of reality show, everything from game shows, to sports games, but the contest and voyeuristic style of reality shows are very popular.

It use to be when people thought of reality shows they thought of shows such as Survivor and Big Brother, but today we see a whole other set of reality shows with different rules in regards to things that can, and cannot, be done in the name of entertainment. We even see shows that are designed to look like reality shows.

Reality shows can be broken down into many forms, sports games, quiz shows, and so forth, are even a simple form of reality show.

Most of the reality shows we will be discussing here are Documentary style reality shows. They are made to be voyeuristic as we are “spying” on participants in some way or another.

Classic Competition Shows

In reality competition shows contestants compete for money. As such these shows are governed by special rules, they cannot be scripted and outcomes cannot be planned in favor of one person or another. Although some shows have had to refilm certain clips, as for quality purposes, they cannot change the events that occurred in the show. Contestants are eliminated on a regular basis.

Examples of this kind of reality show are:

  • Survivor
  • Big Brother
  • The Amazing Race
  • The Bachelor – note this show is different because contestants are eliminated but as there is no prize money some scripting and suggested plots can occur.

Talent Contests

Talent contest reality shows often feature two parts to their show, the contest part, and some interactions between the contestants. They are a sub-genre of the classic reality competition shows, with contestants being eliminated week after week. In these shows the interactions can be scripted as they have nothing to do with the outcome of the contest itself. The results of the contest cannot be planned or scripted.

Examples of this kind of reality show are:

  • American Idol
  • The X Factor
  • Top Model
  • Dancing with the Stars

Purely Voyeuristic Reality Shows

In these types of shows nearly everything can be scripted. As there is no prize money at the end, and the show is usually more about entertainment, scripting is allowed, and often done to create drama or suspense.  When scripting does happen it is not usually actual word-for-word scripting, but the idea for a topic or a conversation is given.

The majority of reality shows currently on television fall into this category in some way or another. Some have more of a traditional reality show feel, while others are more voyeuristic in nature. People are usually not eliminated on a regular planned basis with the goal of prize money awarded to a "winner" at the end.  Some house buying or home improvement shows also fit into this type of reality show.

Examples of this type of reality show include:

  • Jersey Shore
  • Wife Swap
  • The Real World
  • Undercover Boss

Fake Reality Shows

Fake reality shows are actually television programs that are totally scripted with actors but are designed to look like reality shows. The audience has no illusions about these shows and they are generally marketed as sitcoms, not reality shows. The only hint of the show cashing in on the reality genre is the occasional time the fully scripted actor speaks to the camera as if they were on a reality show.

Examples of this type of reality show are:

  • The Office
  • Trailer Park Boys

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Comments (3)

WOW, very interesting, enjoyable and well researched topic. Thanks Brenda

Very interesting! My favorite is The Biggest Loser. I thought it might be scripted, but since it has prize money, it must not be.

Thanks for sharing this information.