Creating a Successful Reality Show

No matter how much we hate and criticize them, reality shows are fun to watch. Most shows revolve around a particular issue or event that the audience can relate to, and from that is built a show. Since many reality shows are being aired every week, the concepts behind most of the shows have become monotonous and boring. And today’s audience prefers watching reality shows that have a great entertaining value, and can truly connect with them. But at times, it becomes difficult to come up with some original and fun ideas for reality shows that can hold the audience interest on a long run. If you are an aspiring, professional writer and are looking for some unique reality TV show ideas, here are some pitching ideas that will not only promote the show but the writer too.

How to Start a Reality Show

Have a Specific Concept
One of the most basic concept of a successful show is to judge accurately what the market is buying or what exactly your audience wants to see on TV. Be specific in your concept; even if you have a generic idea, try to run your creative mind in a specific direction. Decide whether you are preparing a concept or idea for a reality series, TV game show, drama series, etc. Don’t be scared to create two or more variations on the same concept, as each of those will give you a different result which will increase your chance of making more sales. Hence, come up with a thought which is unique, never tried before, and apply different approaches on it.

Create a Highly Marketable Concept
Remember watching television is all about witnessing action, emotion, and real scenarios, that one may not see in real and everyday life. Hence, try coming up with concepts or ideas that are highly marketable. This primarily includes titles that can roll off the tongue easily, provoke conversations, and simply tell you exactly what people are going to be watching. For example ‘Blind Date’, ‘Temptation Island’, ‘The Bachelor’, ‘Joe Millionaire’, ‘Wife Swap’ or ‘The Apprentice’ are all good titles which can instantly grab the viewer’s attention and curiosity.

Cover Different Professions or Lifestyles
The most basic and successful element of any reality TV show is the documentary style series covering varying professions or lifestyles of people. Considering the inquisitive human mentality, such stories can serve the irresistible curiosity of the viewer to know about other people’s personal life and work. So, if you have any such concept or idea in your mind that suits this style, get some actual or well-known people involve to pitch it.

Movie Story
In case you don’t have any idea or concept in your mind, then the last minute savior is to prepare your reality TV concept based on a film story. While watching a movie, try to look at the core concept and the story of the movie, that inspires you and comprises some basic elements or concepts that can be translated in to a reality based show.

Now, if you are wondering how to pitch reality show ideas, then for that you need to very clear about your concept. Present enough details to the producers, make them understand what the show is all about, and how it differs from other shows on television. Outline a minimum of two sample episodes, as writing up additional episode ideas shows your show has legs and can be a huge success. I hope, these ideas prove to be helpful to all you aspiring writers, and help to create a reality show with a concept never seen or heard before.

Facts on Reality Television

The cable network has given us the opportunity of watching reality TV shows like Temptation Island, Fear Factor, etc. These shows broke the monotony of traditional scripted shows and started to represent real-life situations or documentary event of common man instead of professional actors.

It seems, presently people are hooked on to it like children to chocolate or ice cream. Watching reality shows has become a favorite pastime and a source of fun and enjoyment for many.

The Origins of Reality TV

It has always been a little unclear as to how reality TV came into existence. That’s more or less because of how people defined reality TV. Here we take a look at the three biggest TV shows that came to be included in this category.

Candid Camera
Considered to be the oldest example of reality TV, Candid Camera first aired in 1948. It changed the history of TV shows, earning rave reviews and exponential popularity.

The Original Amateur Hour
The first competitive reality TV show, The Original Amateur Hour aired in 1948. The show was famous for launching the career of Frank Sinatra.

An American Family
This show was originally intended to be a documentary about an upper-middle class family (the Loud family), but quickly achieved dramatic controversies when the parents filed for divorce and a son became the first person ever to admit that he’s gay on TV.

The two very basic types (there are many more, which have been discussed below) of reality TV, one of which is where non-actors, or normal citizens, undergo a task or an ordeal, like Candid Camera or Original Amateur Hour. The second is a show, styled like a dramatized documentary, reveals the working of non-actors or citizens, like An American Family. Reality TV did get a lot more categories later on, but their basic influence can be said to lie in the above two.

Evolution of the Video Camera

You’d see a small reality TV show every once in a while till 1988. The video camera was going through its own technological advances till this time, becoming smaller and increasingly portable. This started opening up the options for reality TV, including the style ‘Cinéma vérité’, which means truthful cinema, used first in the TV show COPS. This, and a few other types, became the new way to shoot documentaries, as well as new reality TV shows, that required surreptitiousness and high mobility.

Reality TV’s Exploding Popularity

You now have three big contributing factors to the boom of reality TV. One is the decreasing size of the video camera, or camcorder. The second is the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike. This was a major event that motivated quite a few producers to shift their focus to reality TV, because of the low requirement of scripting and low production costs. The third is audience appeal. The audience’s appetite had already been whetted with shows like Candid Camera, Truth or Consequence, You Asked For It, COPS (1989) etc. They welcomed more reality TV, mostly for its depiction of regular people being either humiliated or excessively rewarded.

Number 28
The first reality show to use soundtrack music and narration by the characters themselves (within the reality TV premises).

Survivor
Definitely one of the biggest TV shows ever since it started, Survivor kept the audience entertained with its unique format that employed social Darwinism, for a long time.

Big Brother
Big Brother has one of the most number of versions played in a lot of countries, and has been embroiled in controversies in almost all of them. The most famous case of this being the racism controversy in Celebrity Big Brother 2007.

American Idol
Another TV show that caught the world by storm is American Idol. It has achieved top ratings for eight consecutive years.

Types of Reality TV

Documentary-style
This includes reality TV shows like The Real World that make the contestants live outside their comfort zone. Then there are the shows that incorporate celebrities or professionals, like L.A. Ink and The Simple Life.

Competitive Game Shows
Examples of this type of reality TV include America’s Got Talent, American Gladiators, The Apprentice, The Bachelor, etc.

Hidden Camera
Linked to the oldest reality TV show, hidden camera reality TV has come a long way from bulky cameras hiding in vans with tinted windows. You have shows like Punk’d, Scare Tactics, etc.

Makeover Shows
This includes changing the appearances of either the people, their homes, or a particular piece of property like a car, as in Extreme Makeover, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Pimp My Ride, etc.

Social Experiments
Here, the show’s producers carry out some form of uncomfortable environment experimentation, like in Wife Swap.

Though reality television is facing criticism these days, the craze for it will remain because of its non-traditional claim of being non-scripted yet intensely dramatic.