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A letter to the editor about reality television submitted by Sara Nersesian ’06 (Sparta, N.J.) ran in the Feb. 27 issue of the New York Times. The piece was part of a sociology class assignment to read the Times every day to find stories of sociological interest and write letters to the editor in response.

The letter was headlined “Reality TV, and the Real World Beyond.” The text:

To the Editor:

Re “TV Networks Plan Flood of Reality for Summer” (Business Day, Feb. 24):

So-called reality shows thrive on the notion of “happily ever after” not just in love, in shows like “The Bachelorette” and “Joe Millionaire,” or money, in “Survivor” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” but also in life. The idea that “this could be you” is planted in the mind of the viewer.

But “reality” is a misnomer. These shows are no different from sitcoms or dramas, whose appeal is based on fantasy. Dreaming about living in the “Friends” apartment is no different from dreaming about meeting the rich, handsome man of your dreams or winning a million dollars. Both types of show foster the same illusions.

With the news so grim these days, it is no wonder that “reality” shows are so abundant and popular. The networks are giving viewers an escape from reality and support for their dreams, through the mere touch of the remote control.

Easton, Pa., Feb. 25, 2003

Categorized in: Academic News