Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Screen Bingeworthy Reality TV

Bingeworthy Reality TV

Maddie Conlan, Print Arts and Lit Editor, discusses some iconic British reality television, especially noting longtime favourite The Apprentice.
5 mins read
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The Apprentice Series 18 – Official Trailer | BBC

Embarrassingly, for the past decade my favourite reality TV show has been The Apprentice. Every year I would wait for the release date and watch the episodes weekly with my dad. The dynamic between Alan Sugar, Karen Brady, Claude Littner, and in more recent years Tim Campbell, has made for deeply entertaining viewing as they watch novice businessmen and women flounder in the face of the public and industry professionals.

The Apprentice has a very different appeal to reality TV shows such as Love Island. While Love Island, and its most recent, popular iteration of All Stars, was a fantastically enjoyable watch, filled with drama and good laughs, The Apprentice is considered by some a bit more highbrow, but not by much. It is also easier for a casual audience to digest as it isn’t as over-saturated as a show that premieres a new episode daily. Instead, once a week is more manageable for the average viewer.

One of the appeals of The Apprentice is the insight into the world of business and marketing. Despite having very little interest in the industry myself, I find it fascinating to watch these strangers struggle under pressure and argue amongst themselves. Their mistakes, such as the iconic incident last year when a team had the bright idea to write ‘dies’ on their baby food packaging, make for a humorous, and sometimes ridiculous, viewing experience. We, as the audience, relish when these teams go wrong and make mistakes.

One of the appeals of The Apprentice is the insight into the world of business and marketing. Despite having very little interest in the industry myself, I find it fascinating to watch these strangers struggle under pressure and argue amongst themselves.

But, the best part of The Apprentice, and other popular reality TV shows such as The Traitors, comes in the form of its short run time and online community. When both shows were airing X, formerly known as Twitter, was flooded with memes and jokes regarding the current episode, making for an enjoyable community viewing. That’s one of the main positives of social media, the bonding of strangers on the internet making jokes about people they see on TV. This humour created by communities, and by the producers of the shows, is one of the more successful aspects of reality TV. It draws people in so they can understand the context of the jokes they see online.

That’s one of the main positives of social media, the bonding of strangers on the internet making jokes about people they see on TV.

While The Apprentice is one of the longest-running British reality television shows, it isn’t without the criticism that all reality TV faces. What consumers want, and have clamoured for, is authenticity in their contestants and their production. Every year, The Apprentice, Love Island, and every other competition-based show, are met with online outrage that the productions are rigged, and the contestants are false. While there is a certain amount of producer manipulation expected in these types of TV shows, otherwise everything we watched would be unbearably boring, I think shows such as The Apprentice have the perfect mix of realistic and unrealistic aspects to keep audiences engaged.

Reality TV is a tricky type of entertainment to get right, but the longevity of The Apprentice, and the media frenzy surrounding The Traitors, can be chalked up to the shows leaning into their social media impact and having the right amount of production manipulation. They are some of the few shows that have perfected the formula for a bingeable and enjoyable viewing.

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