Reality TV, although many have predicted its demise, is growing stronger than ever. Last week’s finale of The Bachelor attracted 1.324 million viewers who feasted on the triumph of single-mother Alex Nation and the heartbreak of Nikki Gogan being sent home sans rose.
A recurring theme of this year’s Bachelor series was its propagation on social media that almost engendered a life of its own beyond the TV screen. Trending at the number one spot globally, The Bachelor Australia also averaged a weekly reach on Facebook of 4.2 million – an increase of 71 per cent on last year’s numbers.
Reality TV it seems is alive and well in an age where participatory culture dominates the media. One of the most popular memes shared on Instagram and Twitter alluded to the reality of reality TV that seems to hook audiences time and again.
“The Bachelor is like real life except girls don’t find out there’s other contestants until about week 7 or 8.”
Many popular reality shows center on the quest for love and its appeal of reality and unreality mixed into one convoluted scenario for many reflects dating today.
Hitting the highest number of catch up views in 2016, The Bachelor is a timely reflection of how we are increasingly turning to screens to substitute relationships offline, in the real world.
“For more than a decade now, reality dating shows like The Bachelor have run with the idea that few things are more performative than love and courtship,” reflects The Atlantic.
With a plethora of reality TV shows centered around the quest for love, some have emerged to reflect the amorality of love that is packaged on a TV screen and by extension a tablet or smart phone.
The U.S drama ‘UnREAL,’ written by Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, is based on Shapiro’s real life experience of working on the U.S Bachelor franchise for three years.
“The effort invested in fabricating love leaves little room for genuine human emotion,” wrote Emily Nussbaum in review of its first season for The New Yorker.
‘UnREAL’ confronts what many suspect of reality TV, which in turn many suspect of the dating world.
“Anyone invested in a love story is assumed to be naïve.
In the case of the reality dating show, art not only imitates life, but infects it.”