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You have most likely found that your favorite Television channels are showing a growing number of documentary-style programs. Termed "reality shows," these programs document true events happening to real men and women who find themselves in a range of scenarios. There is now a reality show about virtually anything, from amateur fashion designers contending for the prospect to launch their own line to single celebrities trying to find love. MTV's "The Real World" is one of the earliest reality series to be shown on Television. The series follows the lives of seven strangers when "people stop being polite and start being real," as the show's tagline suggests. And that's under no circumstances an exaggeration; every season, the number of drunken brawls involving meatheads or promiscuous Jacuzzi conduct increases. Boasting almost twenty seasons, the program's popularity appears only to increase. How real is reality Television? Even though the participants are real, the authenticity of events portrayed in reality programs is greatly debated. There is significant speculation that many reality shows are at least partially scripted, with producers and "story editors" prompting cast members to debate volatile subjects or to show up at the very same social gathering as their arch nemesis. Irrespective of how real it in fact is, what do we find so appealing about reality Television? Movies and sitcoms frequently include considerably nuttier plots and striking special effects. Nonetheless an ever-increasing number of people are choosing to tune in each week to "Joe Millionaire, a series in which an average Joe searches for "the one" in a group of women who believe he is a billionaire mogul. Perhaps witnessing the daily drama and trials faced by reality show characters are much easier for us to relate to than, say, snakes on a plane. Quite a few reality shows have swiftly developed a cult following. Many reality shows are released on DVD, enabling fans to enjoy their favorite episodes whenever they want. In effect, reality show DVDs are a piece of history. They document our culture at its current phase, building a record of what was important to us at that moment, be it simply documenting the airing of dirty laundry on TV or illustrating how our peers respond under extraordinary conditions.
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