The Way Out So-called reality television, for all its apparent popularity, appears to be on the wane. Shows that once captivated audiences around the world such as "Survivor" and "American Idol" have shown sharp declines in viewership. "X-Factor" and "American Idol" both appear to be hit equally hard, as both contests show a roughly one quarter drop in people tuning in each week. These singing competitions are not alone, however. Shows with premises as diametrically opposed as "The Bachelor," wherein a single man is given the opportunity to find love with a bevy of beautiful but backstabbing ladies, and "Dancing With The Stars," where left-footed famous faces partner up with professional dancers, have both dropped in the Nielsen ratings.
"Survivor" No More?
Is America's love affair with reality television coming to an end? "Survivor," the show that first coined the phrase "reality TV," seems to be limping along on life support season after season. Even outrageous new locations and challenges, as well as the often wooden contestants themselves, have been unable to pull the grande dame of reality television out of its slump.
In the wake of "Survivor's" popularity, a host of new reality shows was born, ushering in an entirely new genre of television. Ozzy Osbourne and his family allowed themselves to be followed by camera crews for two seasons, with results that were by turns amusing and painful to watch. In Hawaii, a bounty hunter known as Dog became a media sensation. Chefs, starlets, fashionistas, and people from every walk of life and corner of the country became overnight celebrities, only to see their fifteen minutes of fame evaporate into the ether.
Where's The Love?
The case could be made that America's cultural attention span is moving away from reality television toward other, bigger spectacles. Of all the reality TV shows currently on the air, only "America's Got Talent" seems to be going stronger than ever. Part of this is doubtless thanks to the presence of infamous radio personality Howard Stern, aided and abetted by extreme acts that in many cases walk or shatter the lines of good taste and family television. Another contributing factor is the rash of reality shows popping up on other channels. Food Network, Discovery, A&E, and Bravo all boast programming that appears on any given night during prime time to consist of profession-oriented versions of "Survivor," such as "Top Chef," "Project Runway," "Pawn Stars," and "Ice Truckers."
Is Reality Television Over?
While many television viewers cheer at the barest hint of the notion that reality television might finally topple off its throne and leave room for another iteration of "Star Trek" or the redux of "Dallas," these cheers may prove to be a bit hasty. Reality television as ushered in by "Survivor" may well be on the way out, but the often confounding continued success of shows like "Jersey Shore" implies that reality television is far from breathing its last. The bad behavior and foul language that so often accompanies these shows seems to both titillate and disgust critics and members of the viewing public alike. Even relatively wholesome shows like "The Amazing Race" have weathered steep declines in their viewership.
As reality television's star continues its apparent slow-motion swan dive toward extinction, the offices of the networks are burning the midnight oil. Television executives are launching their own amazing race to work out what the next big thing America's hungry for might be, and who will be the ultimate survivor.
This article was written by Karl Stockton for the team at FirstToKnow.com. They have a bunch of great info on celebs, including the world's most powerful celebs of 2012.