How “Reality Bites” Contributed to the Rapid Rise of Reality Television

Reality Bites

You might be scratching your head as to why anyone would think that the movie Reality Bites has anything to do with reality TV, but the correlation is there since the movie did take Generation X and show at least a slice of what it was like to be a young person just finding their way at this time. Justine Browning of Entertainment Weekly has made the connection pretty well since despite the fact that each generation is made up of a bunch of different types of people, there are those moments when one prominent type really seems to set the tone for the rest of the group. It’s not exactly fair to pigeonhole anyone and say that this was the way it was for every single person, but those that feature as the most prominent examples of a generation are typically going to be used as a representation of what the generation is all about.

Jeremy Fuster of The Wrap made it known that Reality Bites could have almost been very different since Ethan Hawke almost passed on the movie when he was given the chance. When you think about that it could have made the movie a whole lot different since it would have involved another actor and possibly someone that wouldn’t been able to play the same character in such a perfect way. Plus, the effect it might have had upon reality TV that some think the movie did anyway could have been extremely different, not to mention disastrous in some way. When you look at the movie and then the rise of reality TV you can see the correlation largely because this generation was seeking to find itself in such a big way that they needed icons to look to and to emulate in some way in order to really create an identity. Some people might want to deny this, but it could be why those that were growing up in this era seemed lost, confused, and out of touch with what had come before. There are always bound to be various ideals and fads that come and go with each generation, it’s as normal as anything that happens with each new age group that comes into their own.

But Reality Bites and reality TV were definitely a trend that hit the young folks that were in college, about to go to college, or just getting out of college hard. It was a new way of looking at life and a new way of living that gripped the generation and didn’t seem to want to let go. While Reality Bites didn’t really seem to promote reality TV, it certainly had the same feel and the same look that a lot of the shows that would eventually come about took on as their own. Does anyone remember The Real World season one these days? There have been so many different reality shows that a lot of the earliest ones have kind of been left to the past and never thought about again unless we need a reference of some sort as to when the reality craze really began. In all honesty reality TV was already up and running by the time Reality Bites hit the the theaters, but somehow the movie and the way it felt just made it more real, more poignant, and a lot more up in your face and hard to avoid.That seemed to be the signal that things were changing and that people were going to have to deal with it and just ride the reality wave as far as it would go.

Of course now that we look around some of us figure that we should have bailed and found a different set at some point since the reality TV phenomenon has really taken on a life of its own and it can get kind of ugly sometimes. In fact at this point it’s hard to know what’s reality and what’s scripted since a lot of it is the latter and the ‘real’ portion of it is kind of there and gone within a matter of seconds. The truth is that you can find this in the movie as well as reality shows. Real life is kind of boring a lot of the time, it doesn’t move at the same pace that movies and TV demand, and therefore it’s not as perfect for filming. Who in the world wants to watch a movie or a TV show that’s going to feature absolutely nothing for hours on end? That’s why the scripts have to come in and the manufactured drama becomes more popular than the ‘reality’ that is supposed to be pushed.

Back in the early 90s reality got what some might call an upgrade and others might call the beginning of the end. Whatever you want to call it, the trend changed things for good it seems.


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