It's True: Reality TV is Fascinating
1) The people. MTV handpicked a small group of VAPs (very attrative people) in filling the cast list. This was a dynamite move, because for some strange reason, humans generally enjoy watching attractive people do, well, just about anything. An obvious reason for this is rooted in attraction to the on-screen characters, however remote they are. But beyond the purely carnal, it seems that even heterosexual people enjoy watching members of their sex do, well, most anything. The bottom line: like leering zoogoers, this society enjoys viewing its physically elite go about the business of life. I guess I'm in that number, which is rather alarming, and slightly disheartening (but generally undeniable).
2) The setup. In placing a number of interesting, attractive, and different people in close quarters, MTV set the stage for drama. Hicks with urbanites, vegans with meat lovers, type Bs with type As. The poles all met on TRW. As one would guess, the results were both explosive and engrossing.
3) The relationships. The setup naturally begat all sorts of romantic relationships. Romantice relationships naturally involve all sorts of drama. She likes him, he likes her, they don't like each other, she plays hard to get, he's going overboard, etc, etc. Here's a thought. Far from existing as base drama, real-life drama is often the most interesting to watch. It's raw, it's revealing, and it's real. Actors act best when they live their material. That's exactly what goes on in TRW. The actors, so to speak, are living their scripts, and the result is potent. It seems that only the top level of actors reach such a mark of reality. It's not surprising, then, that reality tv draws so many. Dramatically speaking, it's actually good.
There are three reasons for the success of TRW, imitated in countless iterations since the early 90s. I would add that I've commented only on the artistic merit of the show. Doubtless, the show has showcased all sorts of nasty behavior I do not support and in fact despise. One could even say that the show has caused some degree of harm in the American home with its version of unbridled sexuality and epicurean attitude. That's the disclaimer. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some tv to watch, and I'll give you twenty guesses what genre it is.