By Daisy Gomez
San Diego, Calif.
The era of true reality television shows has arrived and is changing the way we perceive the extraordinary lives of people. Modern reality shows range from focusing on the lives of rich housewives to the extreme cases of obesity. But the new era of reality shows should be watched more often because it allows the audience to see into the lives of realistic people who overcome adversity.
“My 600-lb Life,” featured on the Discovery Channel, chronicles the lives of four people who initially weigh more than 600 pounds in 2004. Filmed over seven years, the show tracks them as they undergo gastric-bypass surgery and then lose weight, in hopes of getting their lives back on track. In addition, and more important, the show exposes the American people to what could possibly be their future.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of the U.S. adults and about 17 percent of children are obese. This places the United States in second place for the highest rate of obesity in the world. Shows like “My 600-lb Life” not only bring the American public into the lives of the participants, but also give a realistic impression on how difficult it is to live with obesity and what it really takes to lose an enormous amount of weight.
Another example is “Supersize vs Superskinny,” a reality show from the United Kingdom that pairs one overweight person with one underweight person. The pair switches diets for 48 hours to help them realize their extreme eating disorders. Though the show takes place in another country, overweight participants of the show are frequently taken to the United States to offer a glimpse of the hardship of obesity in America. Often, cases are taken to Evansville, Ind., which has been referred to as “America’s Fattest City.” The show’s participants quickly learn the real jeopardy they are placing themselves in. It also presents the idea that although obesity has become a part of normal American lives, its boundaries are not limited to this country; obesity is becoming a worldwide pandemic.
There are some people who argue that reality shows are nothing more than scandalous and overdramatic. That may be the case for some, but it should not define reality television. Shows such as “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” “Mob Wives,” “The Bad Girls Club,” “The Bachelorette,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” give reality shows a bad reputation. Those shows are hardly even reality because they are often scripted and dramatized to increase ratings.
More and more educational channels are incorporating reality shows that resemble documentaries, making them more appealing to the public. It is the public that needs to start watching true reality shows and stop focusing on the superficial ones.