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.
A television program is a segment of content intended for broadcast on over-the-air, cable television, or Internet television, other than a commercial, trailer, or any other segment of content not serving as attraction for viewership.
Genre is any category of literature, music, or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria.
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It differs from documentary television in that the focus tends to be on drama, personal conflict, and entertainment rather than educating viewers.
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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.
Nummer 28 was a Dutch reality soap, directed by Joost Tholens and produced by Today TV, shown as part of the youth show "1-4-U" of public broadcaster KRO in 1991.
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 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.
The United States of America, commonly referred to as the United States or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
MTV is an American cable and satellite television channel, owned by Viacom through Viacom Media Networks and based in New York City.
A music video is a short film integrating a song and imagery, produced for promotional or artistic purposes.
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.
A game show is a type of radio, television, or internet programming genre in which contestants, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes.
News broadcasting is the medium of broadcasting of various news events and other information via television, radio or internet in the field of broadcast journalism.
A talk show or chat show is a television programming or radio programming genre in which one person discusses various topics put forth by a talk show host.
Other genres that predate the reality television boom have sometimes been retroactively grouped into reality TV, including hidden camera shows such as Candid Camera, talent-search shows such as The Original Amateur Hour, documentary series about ordinary people such as the Up Series, high-concept game shows such as The Dating Game, home improvement shows such as This Old House, and court shows featuring real-life cases such as The People's Court.
Candid Camera is an American hidden camera/practical joke reality television series created and produced by Allen Funt, which initially began on radio as The Candid Microphone June 28, 1947.
The Up Series is a series of documentary films produced by Granada Television that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old.
The People's Court is an American arbitration-based reality court show presided over by retired Florida State Circuit Court Judge Marilyn Milian.
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, 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 ; 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.
A screenplay writer, screenwriter for short, scriptwriter or scenarist is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media such as films, television programs, comics or video games are based.