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Wiktionary
reality television

alt. A genre of television programming portraying one or more unprofessional actors and their reaction to given stimuli and/or goals. n. A genre of television programming portraying one or more unprofessional actors and their reaction to given stimuli and/or goals.

Wikipedia
Reality television

Reality television is a genre of television programming that documents supposedly unscripted real-life situations, and often features an otherwise unknown cast of individuals who are typically not professional actors, although in some shows celebrities may participate. It differs from documentary television in that the focus tends to be on drama, personal conflict, and entertainment rather than educating viewers. Reality TV programs also often bring participants into situations and environments that they would otherwise never be a part of. The genre has various standard tropes, including "confessionals" used by cast members to express their thoughts, which often double as the shows' narration and competitive elements. Reality TV shows often have a host who asks questions to the participants or comments on the participants. In competition-based reality shows, a notable subset, there are other common elements such as one participant being eliminated per episode, a panel of judges, and the concept of "immunity from elimination."

An early example of the genre was the 1991 Dutch series Nummer 28, which was the first show to bring together strangers and record their interactions. It then exploded as a phenomenon in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the global success of the series Survivor, Idols, and Big Brother. These shows and a number of others (usually also competition-based) became global franchises, spawning local versions in dozens of countries. Reality television as a whole has become a fixture of television programming. In the United States, various channels have retooled themselves to focus on reality programs, most famously MTV, which began in 1981 as a music video pioneer, before switching to a nearly all-reality format in the early 2000s.

There are grey areas around what is classified as reality television. Documentaries, television news, sports television, talk shows, and traditional game shows are not classified as reality television, even though they contain elements of the genre, such as unscripted situations and sometimes unknown participants. Other genres that predate the reality television boom have sometimes been retroactively grouped into reality TV, including hidden camera shows such as Candid Camera (1948), talent-search shows such as The Original Amateur Hour (1948), documentary series about ordinary people such as the Up Series (1964), high-concept game shows such as The Dating Game (1965), home improvement shows such as This Old House (1979), and court shows featuring real-life cases such as The People's Court (1981).

Reality television has faced significant criticism since its rise in popularity. Much of the criticism has centered on the use of the word "reality", and such shows' attempt to present themselves as a straightforward recounting of events that have occurred. Critics have argued that reality television shows do not accurately reflect reality, in ways both implicit (participants being placed in artificial situations), and deceptive or even fraudulent, such as misleading editing, participants being coached in what to say or how to behave, storylines generated ahead of time, and scenes being staged or re-staged for the cameras. Other criticisms of reality television shows include that they are intended to humiliate or exploit participants (particularly on competition shows); that they make stars out of either untalented people unworthy of fame, infamous personalities, or both; and that they glamorize vulgarity and materialism. Professional screenwriters have expressed concern about the popularity of a genre which does not require scriptwriting.

Usage examples of "reality television".

It is reality television: CIC picks out one of their agents who is involved in a wet operation-doing some actual cloak-and-dagger work and has him put on a gargoyle rig so that everything he sees and hears is transmitted back to the home base in Langley.

It is reality television: CIC picks out one of their agents who is involved in a wet operation-doing some actual cloak-and-dagger work-ø.

Residents were locked behind closed doors, beer can in hand, watching reality television.

The beginning of America wasn't exciting, fun, honorable, or even patriotic, but could certainly serve as a model for a reality television show that would make Survivor seem like Fantasy Island.