Tell me why you like (or hate) reality TV

I am a college teacher and graduate student who is researching the popularity of reality-based TV shows like “Survivor” and “Big Brother.” I’m hoping your readers, many of whom may be fans, might be willing to share their thoughts about why they watch these shows and what they like or don’t like about them.

Reality TV has been around for decades, but it seems to have taken over the airwaves this summer. CBS, which is leading the charge with “Survivor” and “Big Brother,” has even succeeded in knocking ABC’s phenomenally popular “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” out of first place in the ratings.

Critics may attack such programs for feeding a shallow obsession with celebrity and voyeurism, but ratings for programs like “Survivor” suggest that viewers find something compelling in watching unscripted shows starring real people instead of professional actors. Viewers also want to do more than watch: They want to participate. Thousands of people are currently lining up for a chance to trade their privacy for a shot at fortune and temporary fame on the second season of “Survivor.” I am interested in hearing what your readers think about reality TV as a form of entertainment. If they watch shows like “Survivor” or “Big Brother,” what do they find interesting or compelling (or repellent) about them? Would they be interested in being on such a show, and if so, why? Would they be willing to be on a show like “The Real World,” which doesn’t offer a big cash prize?

I would like to hear from readers of all ages and backgrounds. I will not use any real names unless permission is given. Please write to me in care of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Campus Box 478, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0478. I can also by reached by e-mail at rea12000tv@yahoo.com Thank you very much.

MARK ANDREJEVIC, Colorado

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