People watch reality TV shows for many reasons. Whether it’s to enjoy cutthroat competition or have something to talk about at the water cooler the next day, reality shows are hugely popular. Following are the four longest-running programs.
"The Real World"
The first broadcast was in 1992 on MTV. In recent years, "The Real World" has been overshadowed by many other reality shows, though it still has a loyal viewer base. Inspired by the 1973 PBS documentary series, "An American Family," "The Real World" is now in its 27th season. The 2012 season is set in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. In its early episodes, the show took on young-adult issues like prejudice and sexuality. However, in the past few years, critics have panned the immature, almost goofy behavior by participants.
Who knew people would enjoy watching police officers chasing down drug addicts, arresting drunks and settling domestic disputes? "Cops" has followed policemen and women in 140 different cities in the U.S. as well as international locations like Hong Kong and London. The show premiered on March 11, 1989, and continues to bill itself as “one of the first and only true and unscripted reality shows.” Not only is "Cops" one of the longest-running reality TV programs in the U.S., it’s also the second longest-running show on Fox. Even if you’ve only watched "Cops" a few times, it's hard to forget the show's catchy theme song, “Bad Boys.”
Are you ready for some serious voyeurism? For 14 years, viewers have been enamored with the concept of following a group of strangers living together in a house set up with dozens of cameras and microphones that record every moment, good or bad, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The houseguests are systematically voted out by each other until only one remains. Apparently, watching people engage in dishonest, backstabbing and insincere behavior over a three-month period is just too interesting and entertaining to miss.
Isolate 16 to 20 strangers in a remote tropical location to compete against each other until only one remains, and, voila, you’ve got "Survivor," one of the most popular reality TV shows ever. Since its debut in 2000, the show has filmed in many exotic locales across the globe, including Australia, Panama, Palau and Brazil. Survivor’s 24th season premiered on Feburary 15, 2012, and the 25th season will reportedly be filming in Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur, Philippines. The show is hosted by Jeff Probst.
To be sure, if you don’t like your own reality, there are certainly enough opportunities to immerse yourself in someone else’s.