Gender and Racial Stereotypes Found In Reality Television

By: Danielle Fuerst

What is Reality TV?

Today, reality television programs are becoming very popular to millions of viewers. Reality programs introduce the viewers to casts who seem less like celebrities and more like the average American. Reality shows are less expensive to produce which is one of the reasons why they are becoming more desirable to the networks. Unlike sitcoms and dramas, reality shows don't have actors, scripts, and sets which makes production costs significantly lower.

What Are We Learning From Reality TV?

Think you aren't learning anything from watching reality TV?.....THINK AGAIN! Racial and gender stereotypes are prevalent in reality TV shows. A lot of reality TV shows are full of vulgar language, sex, drugs, drinking, and partying. Reality shows make it seem as though there are no repercussions for people who cheat, lie, hook up, and break the law. There are also double standards between men and women. In reality TV shows men can hook up with whomever, whenever and it is completely acceptable and their character is portrayed as being more "attractive or desirable." However if women hook up with several men they are portrayed as "sluts or whores."

I'll Give You Some Examples

This short clip taken from episodes of Jersey Shore makes drinking, partying, hooking up, and taking off your clothes in public seem more acceptable. This frightening because most of The Jersey Shore viewer were young adolescents and young adults who might actually take interest in this behavior.

The pictures and video above obviously show many African American women fighting on various reality TV programs. The stereotype of the loud, aggressive black woman is still the dominant on realty TV shows. These stereotypes still continue to air on television, therefore to some it may hinder their views of Black women in our society.

Last December the Oxygen Network announced plans for an upcoming reality show titled: "All My Babies' Mamas." The show was centered around Shawty Lo, a 36-year-old rapper and father of 11 children by 10 different women, with a 19-year-old girlfriend who was the same age as his oldest daughter. The show created a lot of controversy including an online petition that garnered more than 100,000 signatures and claims from civil rights groups that the show would perpetuate negative stereotypes about African-American families, the network decided to cut the show from airing. However, commercials and advertisements were still shown on Oxygen and other networks prior to the cancellation of the show.

Toddlers & Tiaras

Has this show gone too far? Sure we've seen the crazy mothers, the makeup, the tantrums and the inappropriate costumes, but to hear an 8 year old voice that "facial beauty is the most important thing in life," is enough to make you fear for the future of children all over. The message that was voiced bluntly from Daisey, sends a negative message to young girls everywhere. Aside from this, it can also perpetuate the stereotype that Caucasian girls are rich, materialistic, spoiled, ungrateful and focus much of their lives around beauty.

This Is What We Are Learning...

As a culture we love watching reality television because It's funny, dramatic, and entertaining. However, It is important to realize that these shows are an unrealistic example of our world and they perpetuate and create stereotypes within our society.

Comment Stream