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Reality Dating Shows: Why Do We Like Them So Much?

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Reality dating shows have started to take over mainstream television. Shows like Love Island, Too Hot to Handle, and Are You the One? have garnered large fan bases throughout their respective runs, which include many college students. 

So, why do we like this subgenre so much?

According to an article by the Hollywood Reporter, TV and streaming viewership has had a 25 percent increase since the pandemic began. Many of the shows that have seen this increase in viewership include reality romance shows, such as The Bachelor, Love Island, 90-Day Fiancé and more.

Since there was a general increase in viewership for all types of shows, it makes perfect sense as to why the reality romance subgenre has also had a surge in popularity recently. But the question now is why is it so popular among the college-age demographic?

Political communications major Cindy Muñoz said that it’s due to being able to see other people make decisions that make you feel more “normal” in comparison.

“I think partly it’s projection When college kids see these shows, they’re able to see people like them make some of these decisions and it makes you feel like maybe you’re not the only one out here making dumb choices,” Muñoz said. “Personally, my favorite show is Too Hot to Handle. It makes me feel a little more sane in this world [when comparing myself to people on the show].”

Since people are able to picture themselves within the contestants on these shows, they quickly become invested.

“Sometimes these shows make it hard to believe [these people’s lives are] true so it lets you escape your stressful everyday life,” Muñoz said. 

Considering these shows often feature groups of 20-somethings that are attempting to figure out how to form genuine and meaningful relationships, it makes sense that college-aged people can relate to their decisions and feelings, despite how outlandish some of it may be. 

But, hey, that’s what makes good television.