In todayâ€™s society, the line that distinguishes reality and fantasy is, perhaps, more hazy than ever before. This most certainly can be seen by simply opening up a TV guide and observing the number of â€œreality-basedâ€ television shows which we have at our disposal. From game-shows to talk shows, talent contests to funny videos, wild animal attacks to â€œCopsâ€, one could certainly argue that reality TV is nothing short of a phenomenon.
Itâ€™s somewhat difficult to pinpoint exactly how or when this craze stared. Some say that we need not look any further than the ever-growing popularity of the home-video camera. It was with this device that we, as society, were able to witness everything from the Rodney King beating to â€œfreakâ€ boating accidents. One program, in particular, that capitalized on the proliferation of the camcorder was â€œAmericaâ€™s Funniest Home Videos.â€ The show, which debuted in 1990, â€œcaught parents shamelessly exploiting their tumbling toddlers and costumed cocker-spaniels for the chance of winning $10,000â€ (Rowen). Since then, several spin-offs have been attempted for both daytime and primetime viewing hours, but none have enjoyed the success of their predecessor.
It wasnâ€™t long before cable television got into the act. In 1992, MTV launched its first reality TV series appropriately entitled, â€œThe Real Word.â€ For eight years, the series featured seven strangers from all walks of life forced to live with one another in a ridiculously lavish house. The program became wildly popular, especially with MTVâ€™s target younger audience, feeding their satiable appetite for melodramatic scenarios, gossip, and various controversial issues (i.e.-homosexuality, racism, etc.) In this time period, the show was the only of its kind in the market. Then came Regis. .
Regis Philbin, best known for his morning show, â€œLive with Regis and (fill in the blank)â€, brought the game show genre to new heights of popularity when he tried his hand at â€œWho Wants to be a Millionaire?â€.