History[ edit ] Television formats portraying ordinary people in unscripted situations are almost as old as the television medium itself. Producer-host Allen Funt 's Candid Camera , in which unsuspecting people were confronted with funny, unusual situations and filmed with hidden cameras, first aired in , and is often seen as a prototype of reality television programming.
Queen for a Day — was an early example of reality-based television. The television game show Cash and Carry sometimes featured contestants performing stunts. Debuting in , Allen Funt 's hidden camera show Candid Camera based on his previous radio show, Candid Microphone broadcast unsuspecting ordinary people reacting to pranks. In the s, game shows Beat the Clock and Truth or Consequences involved contestants in wacky competitions, stunts, and practical jokes.
The series You Asked for It — incorporated audience involvement by basing episodes around requests sent in by postcard from viewers. Every seven years, a film documented the life of the same individuals during the intervening period, titled the Up Series , episodes include "7 Plus Seven", "21 Up", etc.
The program was structured as a series of interviews with no element of plot. However, it did have the then-new effect of turning ordinary people into celebrities. In the Direct Cinema film Chelsea Girls , Andy Warhol filmed various acquaintances with no direction given; the Radio Times Guide to Film stated that the film was "to blame for reality television". In a counterpart program, The Family , was made in the UK, following the working class Wilkins family of Reading.
The Dating Game , The Newlywed Game , and The Gong Show , all of which featured participants who were eager to sacrifice some of their privacy and dignity in a televised competition. The series is credited with starting the career of Sheena Easton , who was selected to appear in the episode showing an aspiring pop singer trying to enter the music business.
The Canadian series Thrill of a Lifetime , a fantasies-fulfilled reality show, originally ran from to and was revived from to In , underwater cinematographer Al Giddings teamed with former Miss Universe Shawn Weatherly on the NBC series Oceanquest, which chronicled Weatherly's adventures scuba diving in various exotic locales. Weatherly was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in informational programming. The series Nummer 28 , which aired on Dutch television in , originated the concept of putting strangers together in the same environment for an extended period of time and recording the drama that ensued.
Nummer 28 also pioneered many of the stylistic conventions that have since become standard in reality television shows, including a heavy use of soundtrack music and the interspersing of events on screen with after-the-fact "confessionals" recorded by cast members, that serve as narration. Nummer 28 creator Erik Latour has long claimed that The Real World was directly inspired by his show;  however, the producers of The Real World have stated that their direct inspiration was An American Family.
These systems made it easy to quickly edit hours of video footage into a usable form, something that had been very difficult to do before film, which was easy to edit, was too expensive to shoot enough hours of footage with on a regular basis.
Simpson murder case , starting with 90 minutes of live network television of Simpson being chased by police, has been described as a seminal moment in reality television, with coverage of the true-life drama interrupting regular television programming for months and dominating ratings and the public conversation.
Changing Rooms , a program that began in , showed couples redecorating each other's houses, and was the first[ citation needed ] reality show with a self-improvement or makeover theme. The dating reality show Streetmate premiered in the UK in The production team from the original series went on to create popular reality shows Strictly Come Dancing , Location, Location, Location , and the revamped MasterChef , amongst others.
In the United States, reality television programs experienced a temporary decline in viewership in , leading some entertainment industry columnists[ who? Survivor led the ratings in —02 , and Idol has the longest hold on the No. Internationally, a number of shows created in the late s and s have had massive global success. At least ten reality-television franchises created during that time have had over 30 international adaptations each: Several " reality game shows " from the same period have had even greater success, including Deal or No Deal , Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
All but three of these franchises, Top Model, The Biggest Loser and Dragons' Den, were created by either British producers or the Dutch production company Endemol ; and even Dragons' Den, which originated in Japan , has had most adaptations be based on the British version. In India, the competition show Indian Idol was the most popular television program for its first six seasons.
Fox Reality in the United States, which existed from to ; Global Reality Channel in Canada , which lasted two years from to ; and Zone Reality in the United Kingdom, which operated from to DVDs for reality shows in fact sold briskly; Laguna Beach: Syndication, however, has indeed proven problematic; shows such as Fear Factor , COPS, and Wife Swap in which each episode is self-contained, can indeed be rerun fairly easily, but usually only on cable television or during the daytime COPS and America's Funniest Home Videos being exceptions.
Season-long competitions such as The Amazing Race , Survivor , and America's Next Top Model generally perform more poorly and usually must be rerun in marathons to draw the necessary viewers to make it worthwhile even in these cases, it is not always successful: Another option is to create documentaries around series including extended interviews with the participants and outtakes not seen in the original airings; the syndicated series American Idol Rewind is an example of this strategy.
A Fox staple since , COPS has, as of when it moved to cable channel Spike , outlasted all competing scripted police shows. Another series that has seen wide success is Cheaters , which has been running since in the U. In , to better differentiate between competition and informational reality programs, a second category, Outstanding Reality-Competition Program , was added. In , the web series The Next Internet Millionaire appeared; it was a competition show based in part on The Apprentice , and was billed as the world's first Internet reality show.
In , New York Magazine's Vulture blog published a humorous Venn diagram showing popular themes across American reality shows then running, including shows set in the U.
Duck Dynasty , a hunting -themed reality series featuring the Robertson family that founded Duck Commander , in became the most popular reality series in U. Its fourth-season premiere was viewed by nearly 12 million viewers in the United States, most of which were in rural markets.
Its rural audience share has ranked in the 30s, an extremely high number for any series, broadcast or cable. In , Entertainment Weekly and Variety again noted a stagnation in reality television programs' ratings in the U. They noted that a number of networks that featured reality programming, including Bravo and E! A study proposed six subgenres: Documentary-style[ edit ] In many reality television programs, camera shooting and footage editing give the viewer the impression that they are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional activities; this style of filming is sometimes referred to as fly on the wall or factual television.
Story "plots" are often constructed via editing or planned situations, with the results resembling soap operas — hence the terms docusoap and docudrama. Documentary-style programs give viewers a private look into the lives of the subjects. Within documentary-style reality television are several subcategories or variants: Soap-opera style[ edit ] Although the term "docusoap" has been used for many documentary-style reality television shows, there have been shows that have deliberately tried to mimic the appearance and structure of soap operas.
Such shows often focus on a close-knit group of people and their shifting friendships and romantic relationships. One highly influential such series was the American — series Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach had a more cinematic feel than any previous reality television show, through the use of higher-quality lighting and cameras, voice-over narration instead of on-screen "confessionals", and slower pacing.
Due to their cinematic feel, many of these shows have been accused of being pre-scripted, more so than other reality television shows have. The producers of The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea have admitted to coaching cast members on what to say in order to draw more emotion from each scene, although they insist that the underlying stories are real.
The franchise has an older cast and different personal dynamics than that of Laguna Beach and its imitators, as well as lower production values, but similarly is meant to resemble scripted soap operas — in this case, the television series Desperate Housewives and Peyton Place. Most of these shows have had spin-offs in multiple locations.
Reality TV personality Kim Kardashian There are also fly-on-the-wall-style shows directly involving celebrities.
Often these show a celebrity going about their everyday life: VH1 in the mids had an entire block of such shows, known as "Celebreality". Shows such as these are often created with the idea of promoting a celebrity product or upcoming project.