When discussing the Sociology of almost anything, there are 3 categories which one must examine: race, class and gender. These three components are important to analyzes if you want to find answers to why people act they way they do and how these people are represented.
Like most shows on television, reality TV is “white washed.” Just thinking about the shows I have been discussing, the main characters are almost always white. (With the exception of The Real Housewives: Atlanta) Reality TV is supposed to be real. (Yes, I know its not actually real, but thats besides the point.) So why are races other than white rarely represented? Honestly, thats hard to answer. Check out this opinion piece on white washing to get a better understanding.
From just an ordinary persons perspective, I would really like to see more diversity. It helps to better understand different cultures and feel like I’m interacting with people I normally don’t encounter.
Side note, check out this really funny video of Blake Shelton on SNL doing a spoof of the most recent The Bachelor. (He makes fun of how there are rarely black contestants on the show about 20 seconds in.)
As far as class goes, thats is often a spectacle on reality TV. The best example of this is The Real Housewives. Most of these women are extremely wealthy, even before they were cast on the show. A lot of the show centers around lavish vacations these women take and them showing off all that they have. The houses some of these women have are absolutely unbelievable. (Especially my girl Lisa Vanderpump) It is almost like you are partaking in the lives of the elite. Middle class is seldom represented, and if it is, money struggles aren’t really mentioned on the show. (Ironic because thats one of the biggest struggles in “reality”, isn’t it?)
Lower class is often a spectacle as well. These people may actually be middle class, but are portrayed as “less classy.” i.e. Jersey Shore, The Real World etc.
Lastly we have gender. I would say there is equal representations for both genders. However, I would like to see a reality show about transgender people. Most people don’t understand the concept of transgender people and are confused about what it even means. I think this would be a good opportunity to represent and educate about transgender people.
So, why does all of this matter and why am I talking about it? Television can be seen as a reflection of our society, our thoughts, our fads and trends, our ideas etc. However, it is an unfair and a poor represntation of what society actually looks like. Instead, most of what we see is white, straight, middle class people. (Mostly male.)
How do we fix this? Well, its hard for me to answer that. But what I do know, talk about it. When there is an issue in socitey, people talk about it. We talk about why something is unfair and how it should be fixed. The more we talk about the issue of white washing and poor representaion, the more attention it gets. Thus, people who create, direct and cast people in these shows will be forced to do something about it. It is just like politics.
So I will leave you all with this.. if something in life ever bothers you, don’t just sit back and watch it happen. Be proactive. Do something about it. The same can be said about our entertainment. Start a discussion about this issue. We all have the voices to make a change and bring more diversity into this industry.