Are reality TV shows impacting our own relationships?

The Only Way is Essex Channel ITVBe

With reality TV being completely re-born through the means of Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex and Geordie Shore, all of which are filled with cheating allegations, rowdy arguments, new and failing romances and unnecessary amounts of gossip – it really is with no surprise that the shows influence the relationship ideology of those who watch it. 

While audiences claim understanding concerning the reality shows artificial story lines and the falseness of the content- it doesn’t condone the popular theme of cheating, ‘sexting’ and disrespectful allegations that casually come up throughout many of the episodes.

The Only Way is Essex has just seen to the latest break-up of Jess Wright and Ricky Raymond due to Ricky sending flirty texts to other girls behind his girlfriend’s back. While, Made in Chelsea’s new American face Alik Alfus was accused of cheating on girlfriend Louise just after a month of being on the show. However this situation swiftly turned around with claims of Louise also kissing another guy during their relationship too. Of course, these are just the most recent dramas to follow a long-list of cheating scenarios which regularly occur across a variety of modern reality TV shows.

Made in Chelsea Louise and Alik

This common issue of ‘cheating’ portrays trust problems to arise amongst the people involved, which consequently leads to an impression to be left on the viewers watching at home, particularly those in a relationship of their own. The more often these allegations appear throughout the show the more normal this behaviour seems, creating a negative belief and the assumption, ‘If he is cheating on her there is no hope for us/me as she is beautiful!’

Throughout every affectionate and loved-up couple we begin to adore and follow we are quickly exposed to their love-rat secrets and proof that within this society it is difficult to not be led astray and be dis-loyal to your supposed loved one.

While it is enjoyable to indulge into the entertaining and dramatic lives of these stars for an hour, diverting us away from our own worries and problems, are these programmes making couples of today paranoid that their other half will cheat? Or that it is acceptable to rummage through your partners phone to check they aren’t texting anyone they shouldn’t be?

It is concerning with the amount of normality that comes with kissing someone else when in a relationship and the causality that comes with, ‘it was only a text’, or ‘just a kiss’ giving society the perception it is ok to do as long as you were ‘really drunk’ or ‘can’t remember’.

Of course these circumstances are plumped and fluffed to add entertainment – but the situations of relationship failure appear to be true as many of the stars take to twitter afterwards with angry, upset tweets which reveal further information.

According to Cultivation Theory, the more time people spend “living” in the television world, the more likely they are to believe in the social reality presented on television. Developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania, Cultivation Theory suggests that long-time television watching nurtures viewers into how they perceive ‘reality’.

The University of Wisconsin in America, carried out a study to examine their television watching-habits and real-world beliefs, using the cultivation theory as guidance. Most of the participants were female (73.8%) and admitted to watching up to 20 hours of television a week. A significant connection was discovered between watching surv­­eillance-type reality shows and real-world beliefs about human relationships and behaviors. Heavy reality-show watchers strongly misjudge the real-life occurrence of dysfunctional relationships and divorce, while the shows place a stronger emphasis on sex in romantic relationships – sex on the first date and multiple sex partners etc.

With Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore, Jersey Shore and many other spin-offs that now exist – being extremely popular with millions tuning in to watch each week, is a new problem beginning to form concerning relationships of today? Do these programmes express the issue of cheating too much causing individuals at home to channel their paranoia on their own partner? While the shows wish to be successful and use these dramatic story-lines to add entertainment and gain viewers – it is slightly worrying with the significance and regularity of disrespectful relationships that appear throughout. Questioning whether these story lines impact the romantic relationships of those who watch it…

I asked a number of people the question: ‘Do you think reality TV shows such as Made in Chelsea and The Only Way is Essex impact relationships today?’ to discover different views and opinions on the issues within the shows and depicting whether society is following in the footsteps of these impressionable TV ‘stars’.

It’s clear that shows such as Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex and Geordie Shore – amongst many others – are renowned for the ridiculous amount of cheating allegations, failing relationships and lies. To the extent that even Made in Chelsea’s own Twitter page has publicised this problem too…

Pictures Courtesy of: @MadeinChelsea, ITV

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