There’s a new buzzword in reality TV, the social experiment, and shows like MTV’s Are You the One? and the upcoming Famous in 12 and Married at First Sight are trying to cash in on this trend of extreme reality.
Are You the One?
Simon Andreae of Fox describes a social experiment concept to The Hollywood Reporteras “something designed to test people’s morale and the laws in which we live and explore an environment in which people are tested to their capacity.”
In the case of the CW’s Famous in 12, a regular family moves to Los Angeles looking for fame, while being filmed for the show for 12 weeks straight. “There’s no game in this, no prize money, no people competing against each other,” says executive producer David Garfinkle. “Literally this family has 12 weeks, and if for some reason they don’t become famous, they’re going back to their average lives in Beaumont, Calif. It’s not a game show; it’s real life. And that’s what makes it a social experiment.”
As to the appeal of this new microgenre, Matthew Kelly, VP of development and production at Discovery, puts it this way, “A lot of reality television’s audience has lost a little bit of faith in what reality is; they don’t know if it is real. But with a social experiment, you genuinely feel like the people are going through something that feels real and authentic. We’re seeing how people react to a certain situation in a real and authentic way.”
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