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Reality television: It's all about the prizes

Kate Ferris / Columnist

Anyone who participates in a reality television show does so to win.

Putting aside the fact that reality television shows are nothing more than contrived, more than likely scripted, situations made to look like reality, there does not seem to be a single show out there that does not have a wonderful little prize for the winner or the person who lasts the longest.

Of course, why would someone participate in a reality show if they were not going to get anything out of it?

It seems that each week, one network or another premieres another reality show promised to be better than the rest.

One of the latest of these delightful television shows is "Deal or No Deal," also known as NBC's answer to lack of programming.

NBC has taken the approach of eliminating any work a person has to do to win. There is no trivia, no surviving on an island, no blind dates, no singing or dancing ability necessary.

All a "Deal or No Deal" contestant has to do is find the briefcase with $1 million in it. Or, eliminate all the other briefcases with really low amounts of money in them so that someone called the banker will offer the contestant a lot of money to stop the insanity.

This may sound confusing, but watch the show for five minutes and you will figure out two things.

One, it is really easy and requires no intelligence beyond being able to distinguish numbers between one and 28 or 1 cent from 1 million.

Two, humans are greedy people who can be offered more money than they will ever see in their life, but reject it to see if they can win more.

This latest reality show also proves that human greed will pull in any audience. The audience loves to encourage the person to keep going just to see them win or lose it all. Generally, lose.

The audience does not care if the person loses, they just want to see how far the person can go before losing.  If the person wins, the audience is happy for them because they were the ones telling the person to continue.

If you understand the game, it can be addicting to watch. You want to see the contestants win.  You want to see them fail.  You wish you were the one being offered $200,000.

The bottom line is that reality television is rather ridiculous. We all get addicted, but can you really say you would rather watch regular people fighting it out for some prize than a really good episode of "Lost" or "Grey's Anatomy" or a rerun of the two?  I think not.

Contact Kate Ferris at or 278-7247.

Photos courtesy of KRT Campus

Reality TV shows like "Survivor" (above) and "The Bachelor" (below) are popular mainly because of human fascination with money and greed.