It’s Sunday night, the work is done and you are ready to sit down and relax. You walk down the stairs, make some popcorn, cuddle up on the couch, and flip on your favorite reality television show. On that Sunday evening you will not only have one reality show to choose from but many because reality television is becoming commonplace. These shows range from competitions to find your future spouse to episodes documenting the life of celebrities. What each show has in common is that is highlights interpersonal relationships. While most parents are stealing the remote to prevent their children from watching reality television, they should be doing the opposite. Even though many believe these shows destroy society, more evidence indicates that the shows benefit and assist people, encouraging them to strengthen their own relationships and make smart decisions within them. Due to reality television becoming more popular it is important to understand its true effects. Reality television shows benefit relationships by providing positive tips, lessons, and examples of what a healthy and positive relationship should be.
One type of interpersonal relationships is romantic relationships, which are often expressed on reality dating shows. The heart of dating reality television is ABC’s The Bachelor. Every season is about a single, handsome, and successful man that is introduced to 25 stunning women in hopes that one of them will be his future wife. Week by week he sends one of the women packing back to her home. At the end of the six-week period he will have one dream woman remaining to whom he will propose. The Bachelor is a great example of a program that positively benefits the relationships of viewers. Dana Cloud, a Communication Studies professor, studies their investment and influence that is the result of their attachment and commitment. She disputes that the viewers’ emotional investment in the show stirs trouble in their own personal relationships. Cloud believes the overload of viewers’ attachment in the show is obvious by social media comments. On twitter one user tweeted twice in one day about the program and her opinions; these users help verify the attachment of many viewers (Roth). While Cloud argues their investment is negative, psychology suggests the viewers are benefitting from it. Tiffany Brewer argues, “The general premise of the social cognitive theory is that people learn from observing others’ actions and attitudes and the consequences they face as a result. This process is known as modeling and is a core premise of entertainment education” (12). The theory implies that viewers are going to apply the positive behavior to their own personal romantic relationships and learn what not to do from the negative behavior by investing themselves in the reality programs.
The Bachelor not only benefits the viewers but also many of the participants. Many of the couples that became engaged at the end of the season have moved on past the show and created families. Ryan Sutter the winner of Trista’s heart from season one of The Bachelorette tweeted, “Beautiful day to spend with my beautiful wife and kids. So greatful!” Him and Trista have been married for over ten years now and have children. Another example of a beneficial relationship is Jason and Molly Mesnick. Jason denied Molly in the final episode and months later asked her for another chance. Jason, who had a kid from a previous marriage, is now married to Molly and they have a newborn baby. Molly posted a tweet after her baby was born saying, “Thank you everyone for all of the well wishes! Riley is such a dream and couldn’t be more perfect! We are so happy and in love!!!! #rileymesnick.” Both of these tweets suggest that the show has benefited couples from The Bachelor.
Dating shows are not the only types of reality television shows that affect relationships. In addition to romantic relationships reality television...
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