Reality TV first began its meteoric rise back in the year 2000 with the introduction of two reality shows which changed the face of television.
In the US there was CBS’ Survivor, which premiered on May 31 and was dubbed “the first truly competitive reality format” by host Jeff Probst. The show is still going strong today, with season 39 set to air in September of this year.
Meanwhile, over in the UK, a British version of the international reality franchise Big Brother landed on screens. It debuted on July 18 and was an immediate rating hit. The series ran until September of 2018.
In the years that followed the volume of reality-TV content would skyrocket.
Cheap Reality Or Scripted Drama?
Reality TV’s rise is down to two things, drama and cost. Fans loved watching people get into pointless drama, following the ups and downs of a wide range of colorful characters. Meanwhile, TV companies also loved reality TV due to the low cost of hiring unknowns, rather than expensive actors.
As more competition appeared on our screens many reality shows began to move away from their roots and script more and more drama. Editing also played a huge part in making the shows fit the narrative the producers wanted.
Over time more and more people began to discuss just how fake so-called reality shows are. While the genre still has many fans, those who want real drama, rather than something created in the editing suite, began to look elsewhere.
The Rise Of Livestreaming
Platforms such as YouTube and Twitch began to fill in the gap, providing more realistic videos of real people. Streaming, in particular, is incredibly difficult to fake as reactions are broadcast live and live chat provides an uncontrollable element that adds increased drama to the mix.
While there are broadcasters who put on a fake personality for the sake of dramatics, such as Guy Beahm’s Dr. Disrespect persona, a large number are showcasing their authentic selves on screen. This is something which appeals to those seeking a peek into others' lives.
Livestreaming is also not just about games, with IRL categories gaining increasing popularity. These streams broadcast everyday things, from cooking and cleaning to going out with friends. IRL streamers often offer a more candid peek into their reality.
While this is great for fans of reality TV it has led to some concerns, including the rise of streamers doing stupid and downright dangerous things on stream, including dangerous driving.
Of course, not all IRL streams are dangerous. Many are simply following the streamer as they go about their lives, capturing events as they happen.
While it’s still possible to script, or at least plan, the events in an IRL stream, there are many unpredictable elements added to the mix due to the nature of being live. Even scripted TV shows are often changed by being live.
Then there were those who went one step further with their quest to be reality TV stars, such as the occupants of The Streamer House.
The Streamer House
Founded back in 2013 the Streamer House aimed to be the first 24/7 live streaming channel. Eight friends moved in together and began broadcasting on a rotational basis.
Unsurprisingly, being always on, especially once house wide cameras were introduced, has led to much drama over the years, something viewers have of course loved.
As recently as last month the house hit live streaming news, thanks to rumors of noise complaints, cockroaches, a leaked address and a disgusting-sounding incident involving dog poop.
When the cameras are on 24/7 there’s nowhere to hide and every scrap of inappropriate, dramatic and downright disgusting behavior has been broadcast to the world, resulting in some real-life consequences as the group has been threatened with eviction.
As we’ve seen, streaming offers a chance to view unfiltered content and often this is its major appeal. When someone cooks on TV they can retake if it all goes wrong, when they cook on stream it’s another matter entirely. Each and every element of life comes with a chance of something unexpected happening.
The world is unpredictable and so are other people. Adding an interactive chat to the mix also increases the possibility that things will all go very badly. It happens so often in fact that there’s an entire website dedicated to Livestream fails.
Disasters frequently happen and they always strike a chord with viewers. One such incident happened when League of Legends streamer Yassuo, aka Moe, dyed his hair pink during a charity livestream with disastrous consequences.
However, much of live streaming drama comes from the behavior of streamers themselves, especially when they just don’t think before they act.
Bad Behavior And Hate Speech
Unfortunately hate speech is one of the most common forms of streamer drama. Some of it comes from bigoted people who’ve led privileged and sheltered lives finally facing consequences for their narrow-minded, homophobic or racist views. Other hate speech is the result of a wider gaming community issue, where slurs were previously considered an acceptable way of expressing anger during a game.
As streaming hits the headlines its at least comforting to see these content creators being held accountable for their, at times, completely unacceptable behavior.
Just in the last month alone, Twitch dramas have included a messy situation between a streamer and an obsessed fan, another streamer being accused of animal abuse and another who quite frankly just didn’t think before he spoke.
Uncut and Unscripted
When the camera is on and people are putting themselves in front of it day after day there will come a time when they mess up. Making mistakes is human and live streaming can often catch them.
For better or worse live streaming platforms are currently the closest we have to uncut and unscripted drama. People may not trust the carefully edited reality shows on TV but those 3 hour unfiltered live broadcasts? Those will always remain unpredictable, adding that mix of chaos and drama many viewers find so irresistible.