Whether or not you enjoy reality television or think it indicates the decline of our cultural progress, it seems it is here to stay. From Jersey Shore to Big Brother, The X Factor and American Idol; many people love reality television and the ratings suggest that it's not going anywhere. Here is a little history on reality television and what you can learn from it.
While we may tend to think of reality television being something that is fairly new, the first reality series was set in 1973 and was about a family going through a divorce. It was called An American Family and was shown on PBS. While this show was more of a documentary, it still reflects the reality television genre even if it was before its time of popularity.
Believe it or not, we can learn a lot from reality television. Sure, some may seem pointless and mundane but if you look at the larger picture you can see a little bit of help in sociology and psychology. For instance, Big Brother sets house guests together without outside influence where they must compete against each other. Rivals and alliances are formed and it tends to show us how humans react to each other when in a difficult situation. Survivor does the same thing but under more extreme conditions. Mad, Mad House took house guests of a particular norm and thrust them into an environment with people much different from them: a witch, a voodoo priestess, a vampire, a naturist and a modern primitive. This allowed them to learn about others, take in their cultural differences and decide whether or not to have an open mind.
So while some may make fun of reality television, there is a lot to be learned from this genre.