Trending Today on MTV: Reality TV

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BY: Dana Pappalardo

Despite being one of the most successful television networks there is, I could go with or without ever watching another series on MTV again. Most of the shows that air on MTV fall under the same genre, whether that is a reality show or a couples competing show. MTV is most known for in this day in age as a reality network. Although some people (like me) will not even turn the channel on, some people swear by it for entertainment. Shows on this network like Teen Mom, True Life, Real World, and Catfish are all very popular shows. Teen Mom was a huge hit back when I was in middle school, so much that after the second season wasn’t as popular as the original,  they starting shooting “Teen Mom OG.” This featured all of the girls/couples from the very first season that everyone knew and loved. This series blew up and has been running since December of 2009. I’m not sure what everyone finds so interesting about watching girls at 16 years old go through pregnancy and also watch their relationships with their baby daddies fall apart, but I guess that question will never be answered. Not only did MTV have a show called “Teen Mom” but during the same time frame they had a series called “16 and Pregnant.” For some reason girls loved watching this show. I’m not sure if it was a popular trend during that time frame due to the fact that there were not as many people to have kids at a young age back in 2009, or just because it was entertaining to watch how their lives would turn out after having children. Whatever the reason could be, MTV did a fantastic job on finding this trend and sticking to it because I will forever associate Teen Mom with MTV. The first show that pops into my mind when I think of MTV will forever be Teen Mom.

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Not only does the MTV network have a trend for teenage pregnancies, but they also produced two shows that were very similar that came out around the same time frame as well. These shows were “Jersey Shore”, and the “Real World”, in which both shows are very similar and have the same type of plot line. “Real World” is very much like “Jersey Shore” for those who know what “Jersey Shore” is. The point of the show is to ship around eight people off to a city and film them to see what kind of trouble they can get themselves into. I would say that “Real World” is the more updated version of “Jersey Shore.” MTV has a habit of producing the same kind of shows, but just slapping a different title on it with different characters. The problem with these types of reality shows is that a lot of it is usually scripted which is what pulls me away from watching it. I don’t want to watch a ‘reality show’ that isn’t even real and most of the drama is scripted, i’d rather sit down and listen to family drama at the dinner table at my house! Despite my feelings towards these types of shows, most people seem to love them. Jersey Shore was one of the most popular shows along with “Teen Mom” when I was growing up and you were ‘not cool’ if you didn’t watch them. So I guess I wasn’t that cool but I sure as hell wasn’t brainwashed by Sammie and Ron’s fighting.

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Another series that MTV created that was a huge it is called “True Life.” This show is a reality/documentary that follows many different cases of drug use, money issues, and many more things. “True Life” usually features many different characters/ people from different shows on MTV. A lot of people from “Real World” have been on this show which is why I believe that a lot of this stuff is scripted and not actual reality. To have someone on the show that is addicted to drugs gives them a great opportunity to sign them longer. This also helps mesh all of the shows together and gives MTV that ‘reality TV’ title.

The most recent show that is super popular that MTV produced is not like most other reality TV shows on this network. This show is called “Catfish” and is one of the only shows on MTV that I can sit down and watch. It is actually a very interesting show about these two best friends who go around the world and help people who have been talking online for years get together and actually meet each other. The show is called “Catfish” because in a lot of the episodes of the show, most of the people are never who they say they are, and this is called being ‘Catfished.’ This is one of the only shows on MTV that is not completely scripted because the entire show is about meeting someone that you have never seen in person before. Even though it’s not like the other shows on MTV, it still falls under the reality TV category.

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The things that MTV do to get you to watch their shows is basically creating shows that are trending in real life and centering their show on that. For example a couple years ago, this app called Tinder started getting super popular which is basically a dating app for college students. Soon after this show called “Catfish” was made. This is a perfect example of how MTV is keeping up with what is trending in the world.

Not only is the show “Catfish” a great example of this, but also many of their previous shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” are also examples of this. Back when I was in middle school, teen pregnancy started becoming a lot more common. After this, MTV created these two shows where you follow the day in the life of a pregnant teenager.

Although MTV has been through many different trends over the years, the one thing they never seem to stray away from is reality TV. They do have other shows on the network, but a lot of the most popular shows are reality shows. MTV I’m sure will continue to grow over the next decade, but I do not doubt that the reality TV shows will forever be there.

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4 thoughts on “Trending Today on MTV: Reality TV

  1. Reality television has taken over our nations youth and the weird thing is that there is nothing real about “reality”. Ive seen a few of the shows you mentioned in your blog and I have to agree that MTV does a great job keeping up with trends of pop culture, but they also do a great job manipulating their viewers. They are all shot the same way and are all extremely repetitive. Drink, party, wake up, work at a smoothie shop. Drink, party, wake up, work. They are all have almost identical structures but yet there is something about these shows that keep viewers coming back. It made me think of the show we watched in class Party Down South and how ridiculous all the people on the show were. I have to say that shows like Real World, Party Down South, and Jersey Shore are very stupid and fake yet very entertaining. In these shows, the contenders become less like people in “reality” and more like Characters in a fiction show. I also agree with the point you made about how Catfish is one of few MTV shows that doesn’t feel scripted. Although it is a repetitive concept, the outline of the show does seem the most genuine.

    – Jack Kenny

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  2. This article was very good at describing the different television shows that populate MTV. Growing up, my family did not have cable TV so I never grew up watching any of the shows that most people my age at the time were watching. Whenever people talked about shows such as “Jersey Shore” or “Teen Mom” I never knew what they were talking about. To me, MTV was not a very important thing. The whole idea of partying all day, drinking, and living a crazy lifestyle as shows such as “Jersey Shore” exemplify is something that is very popular in todays culture, so it is true that MTV keeps up with culture trends. The one show that I don’t understand has lasted so long on television is the show “Catfish”. It is jus ridiculous to me how many people actually believe that they are dating people or are even in love with people that they meet online and have never met in person. I have watched this show a couple times and it just blows my mind how it is still on the air today, but somehow, MTV is able to attract so many viewers. You did a good job at explaining the different ways MTV pulls in viewers and stays with in our culture.
    -Kelly Hartlage

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  3. I feel like so many people our age will be intrigued by a topic like this because most, if not all, of us grew up watching shows on MTV. You state multiple shows that aired on MTV that I remember watching and laughing or being intrigued by how crazy the shows are. I think there was so much importance on shows like “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom,” and “Catfish.” I personally never got into “Teen Mom,” and I do not think this show is good for younger children to be watching. There is a lot of negativity that comes from all three of these shows that can negatively impact positive development in society. It just blows my mind that people actually act like this or date people online without even getting full verification. Many people use online dating apps now, and I still feel as though there are so many ways someone can verify a persons identity before even meeting in person. It is just crazy to think that people are being duped and are so foolish, it almost feels scripted because it is so bizarre. That is what pulls viewers in though, and you do a good job with identifying the way MTV attracts attention to its shows. This blog is definitely relatable for people our age because many of us grew up watching some show or another on the network.

    – Michael Sabatino

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  4. Another great article, Dana! I totally agree that MTV has become another garbage reality tv network. It’s such a shame considering what MTV means culturally in its prime in the 90’s. MTV was a cultural icon that you went to for news and entertainment. What it has become now is tragic. I agree with your comment about the ridiculous circulation of Teen Mom shows. Teen Mom Seasons 1 – 1,000,000 weren’t enough I guess and they had to recycle to make Teen Mom OG. They crazy thing to me is the ratings these shows get- apparently they do well enough that people want to watch what happened to Farrah Abraham (which I’m kind of guilty of myself… she’s a delightful trainwreck.) As for Jersey Shore, I will defend that show until the day I die, I love Jersey Shore, but I totally understand that it really is garbage television. Great work overall!

    -Bre Moran

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