It has existed for many years and its content has been presented in many ways; what we are going to discuss is the television shows that are categorized as “reality shows”. For the sake of this report we will exclude documentary, news, and non-fictional television programs from the definition.
The reality television programming popularly known as “reality shows” can be presented in many forms. Reality shows are produced in the form of games, quiz, or many other structures that in some countries, particularly Japan, can be regarded as absurd, silly, and ridiculous.
Even before television, radio produced programs intended to illustrate the realities of their subjects, people, or situations; these also were unscripted. There has long been an appetite for reality in the entertainment media. The audience wants to see into other people’s lives and producers love the low production costs.
An appearance on a television show can make people instant celebrities; however they need to sacrifice some of their privacy and dignity. Their lives become more open to scrutiny when the shows are broadcast. The early reality shows, starting the 1960s, were becoming too personal, they focused for instance on poverty, weddings and dating games. The reality shows with which we are most familiar started to become popular in the 1980s. The shows began utilizing modern technology; cameras and microphones became small enough to be easily moveable and virtually unobtrusive. Current technology shortens editing hours, and modern trends are to make quick cuts and to include dramatic or suspenseful music to make up for their lack on the raw footage.
Nowadays, reality shows are numerous and it is almost impossible to list them. This clearly demonstrates their popularity – both among their producers and the audiences.
With widely broadcast programs, the shows could make people instant celebrities, causing unprepared people a great deal of personal anxiety. Programs like Kontes Dangdut Indonesia (KDI), Akademi Fantasi Indosiar (AFI) and Indonesian Idol have made the participants famous. Not all of those people can cope with sudden fame; some of them ended up having psychological problems that created difficulties in their lives. One example is Januarisman (Aris), the winner of Indonesian Idol 2008, whose family became so disturbed by the sudden change of life style, as a result of the constant intruding of the fans.
It isn’t just the contestants who suffer negative impact, however. The audiences themselves suffer a degree of degradation. People seem to enjoy watching the humiliation of people pictured in the shows. We find that people are in an awkward situation and are being humiliated, but the viewers seem to enjoy the scenes. Things like this can be seen in Fear Factor or other programs, that encourage the audience to enjoy humiliation as entertainment.
However, reality shows have also some impact politically in some countries, especially those under authoritarian regimes. People in a country like China, for instance, find that unscripted shows demonstrate freedom of expression and doing thing differently.
In Middle East countries, particularly Muslim countries like Afghanistan, women are strictly forbidden to do things openly. Afghan women see that they really want to have the same freedom as the women who live in other countries. Reality shows have contributed a vision and depiction an alternative lifestyle. So it is not all that bad.
However, some shows sometimes are not really “reality”; they are made to appear as such by some coaching beforehand. This arguably makes a reality show a “fake” show. These participants can be seen more as actors, having gone through drills by the show crews and, of course, they would undergo some post-production processing before being broadcast .
Many people make negative comments about these shows, especially those which were produced by the local TV stations in Indonesia.
“Oh no, all reality shows in Indonesia are fake “, Titi said to her friend.
Sad to say, some television shows are copying each other’s ideas. Therefore, we may find many so-called “reality shows” produced by local TV stations; different types of shows yet with great similarities among them.
Like it or not, reality shows play an important role in our life. With a very simple concept, it could be seen as a reflection of ordinary people’s lives or even offering some insights into the lives of some successful or high achieving people.
The latter should be seen as motivating factors, inspiring people to try to reach similar achievements. Some reality television programs originally produced in the early 2000s in the United States have reached extreme popularity throughout the world and it can be seen that many countries, including Indonesia, have tried hard to copy the ideas. TV series like: The Survivor and American Idol have been at the top of the list in the United States and also have enjoyed a lot of publicity. As such they have had a wide impact globally. There are some other series that are successful and even have been franchised in many countries, including Indonesia, for instance: Indonesian Idol.
But, is it true that all reality shows in Indonesia are “fake” shows?
A reality show is just entertainment. If you see most reality shows in Indonesia, you’ll see that they are generally something that relates to people, events or current situations. A portrait of life may be featured by an ordinary person, not a celebrity. The only reason not to use the celebrity as the actor is because the story is about real daily life activities. It is simple, yet it is intended to be an entertaining program.
What makes people judge that reality shows in Indonesia are not really reality?
There is no reality show that is one hundred percent real. If the producer tries to make it a “real” reality show, it might not be a reality show; it should be called a documentary. The mission of a reality show is to entertain society and to be enjoyed. With a little bit of exaggeration, the show will be more dramatic. But, the show must be good so people will not get bored while watching the show.
Among the reality shows currently being shown on the local TV stations in Indonesia are:
1. Pacar usil (Naughty boy/girl friend): shown in AnTV – it is a rather unique program featuring the naughtiness of a boy or girl friend making fun on each other.
2. Orang ke tiga (The 3rd person), featuring a problem of a spouse with the 3rd person entering in their lives.
3. John Pantau: criticizing the life style of people. For instance, the life of the government employees.
4. Termehek-mehek: stories about man or woman who wanted to rebuild a relationship with their ex.
5. Maafin dong ( Please forgive me) : a reality shows supposedly to help people to express their regret and asking for forgiveness
6. Cinta monyet: is about the first love stories of early teens.
7. Pacar pertama (First boy/girl friend) : about the first girl or boy friend
8. Cinlok: is about love affairs between celebrities during the film making at the shooting location.
9. Kacau (chaos): is regarding the chaotic situations in one’s life in a day.
10. Playboy kabel : featuring the life of four playboys trying to get some ‘victims’
11. Backstreet ; about secret or unapproved love
12. Makin gaya : about improving the appearance of person through changing their make-up and dress style
13. Mata-mata : is about unapproved boy or girl friend by the parent
14. CLBK : featuring of the returning old love
15. Jika aku menjadi.... (If I were….) : is about people who must try to live in the conflicting situation from the one they have.
Nielsen did not explain the new trend, simply saying that horror and mystery shows remain the most popular for TV audiences. In terms of popularity, children's programs and entertainment shows, including reality shows and celebrity gossip programs, followed horror and mystery series and are still favored by the Indonesian viewers.