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Reality television shows are frowned upon by many people in society. This is because they display behaviors that society should be trying to avoid, and glamorizes them into appearing desirable. However, if these shows are watched deeply enough, viewers can find their many positive attributes. Many actually influence society in a positive way by displaying real people who have made bad decisions or come from rough pasts, inspiring viewers to not make the same mistakes, or to work towards fixing them.

MTV’s popular television show “16 and Pregnant” puts teenage girls on display during their pregnancies, and transitions into motherhood. While many people find this show to be an extremely bad example for society to follow, there is evidence that shows it actually deterred teen viewers from following this example. A study was conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research to see what the cause was for a severe drop in teen birth rates, “The results of our analysis indicate that exposure to '16 and Pregnant' was high and that it had an influence on teens' thinking regarding birth control and abortion.” Even though “16 and Pregnant” may be thought of as a bad example for by making teenagers think it is okay to have a child at such a young age, it actually does the opposite. This show displays a lot of dramatic scenes, especially fighting scenes between the two teen parents, which can often be looked at as inappropriate, but really this graphic content is what makes young adults want to stay away from these negative kinds of behavior.  Many young adults find shows like “16 and Pregnant” to be entertaining, but whether they know it or not, they’re also being educated on what life is like when bad decisions are made, like the people in these shows. The fighting scenes, specifically, are often traumatizing for viewers. No one likes to see a couple fighting, especially violently, in front of their child. After seeing this, viewers can assume it is almost inevitable to have the same problems as those shown on tv- making viewers not want to make the same mistakes. Reality television educates society on what these negative decisions entail, and how to go about avoiding doing the same. “16 and Pregnant” is a great example of a reality television show that may carry a bad name, but actually teaches a valuable lesson to society- which positively influences them to not make bad decisions like those portrayed in the show.

The Biggest Loser is a reality competition show that gives an inside look on what it is like to be overweight, where the contestants have to work to lose as much weight as they can. This show exposes those who are overweight, which is something society should be trying to avoid- Yet this show delivers a positive, inspirational message to society. Season 3 winner, Erik Chopin, came onto the show at 407 pounds, and won at the weight of 193, losing 52% of his body weight. Erik is an inspiration for all people who struggle with their weight, as he was much heavier than other contestants, and ended up winning in the end. Jodi Davis, a Michigan local who used to struggle with obesity, found the hit reality show to be extremely inspirational. “It helps you face the fact that you can change and makes you believe that you can lose the weight.” America, especially, struggles with increasing obesity rates. Even though The Biggest Loser displays something society should be trying to avoid, it sends an extremely encouraging message as the contestants are everyday people who just want work to live a healthier lifestyle. For many, obesity is something that seems impossible to overcome. The Biggest Loser provides proof that it is indeed possible, and inspires others to make good choices just like those on the show.

American Idol makes dreams come true for many talented individuals who want to make their way in the music industry. This reality show is a competition for everyday people who have amazing voices and want to make a name for themselves. A lot o
f these people come from rough backgrounds, and watching their story inspires others to chase their dreams as well. Lazaro Arbos was a contestant on the show in 2013, but he was different from the rest. Not only did he have an amazing voice, he had gone through many hardships due to his stutter. Alain Lopez, a speech-language pathologist and owner of Bilingual Speech Language Pathology Center Inc. in Fort Myers says, “I think he's a good role model for other individuals who might be in similar situations, who might be hesitant to follow their dreams.” Lazaro Arbos is a great example of someone whose life was changed due to American Idol. For many, especially those who also have something that is holding them back from accomplishing their goals, Lazaro is an inspiration to never give up. American Idol gives people the opportunity to not only follow their dreams, but allows society to become inspired to do the same. American Idol gives the chance of success to all kinds of people, no matter what background they come from. This provides a wide range of contestants, making it almost impossible for a viewer to not be connected to at least one. Watching an everyday person be heard all over the world for their true capabilities gives society a bright outlook on life, and encourages them to not give into bad lifestyles just because you don’t have a perfect past. American Idol positively influences society by encouraging them to follow their dreams.

Reality television shows are often thought as to glamorize negative choices that society should be staying away from, when in actuality, these shows send a positive message to society by showing them other people who make bad decisions or have rough pasts but work to have a brighter future. Even shows like “16 and Pregnant” where the bad mistakes aren’t always fixed, it shows viewers why to stay away from these mistakes. Although reality television shows tend to have a negative connotation attached to them, many actually influence society in a positive way by displaying real people who have made bad decisions or come from rough pasts, inspiring viewers to not make the same mistakes, or to work towards fixing them.

Works Cited:

Wilson, Jacque, and Stephanie Smith. "Study: MTV's '16 and Pregnant' Led to Fewer Teen Births." CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

BATLLE, MARYANN. "Lazaro Arbos' American Idol Run Inspires Others Who Stutter." NPDN. N.p., 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.

Davis, Jodi. "TV’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ a Great Motivator For Positive Change." A Healthier Michigan. N.p., 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

Harrington, Amy. "The Biggest Losers: Where Are They Now?" Fox News. FOX News Network, 18 Sept. 2009. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Comments (2)

Eamon Kelly (Student 2016)
Eamon Kelly

I haven't thought of reality shows that way. At first I thought you were going to talk about the unreal stuff of reality shows, but that fact that you went deeper into the subject is interesting. Not all reality shows are about troubled people. There are some regular social shows, and even funny shows, like hidden-camera prank shows. I'm saying that not every reality show is about people who come from a troubled life.