“Couples Therapy” is a VH1 reality show that brings in celebrity couples for relationship counseling, a formula that has earned the show five seasons on the network. However, a look at the season-by-season cast lists reveals a surprising fact – the majority of the celebrity couples are former reality show stars. The latest is recent “Bachelor” Juan Pablo Galavis and girlfriend Nikki Ferrell, who appeared in the 18th season of the ABC series. The couple highlights an interesting trend of reality stars being treated as celebrities in their own right.
The Galavis/Ferrell casting is particularly interesting. With their appearance on “The Bachelor” occurring less than a year ago, the couple seems relatively happy according to all reports. Keeping a low profile since the "I love you" debacle on "The Bachelor: After The Final Rose" special, the couple seems, to put it kindly, blissfully boring. However, the popularity of “The Bachelor” raised the couple’s profile so drastically that they are a draw to other programs.
They are not alone. The upcoming season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” will feature 17-year old Sadie Robertson. Robertson is another reality personality, famous as part of the Robertson family featured in A&E’s hit series, “Duck Dynasty.”
The casting of reality stars in, not just other reality shows (which has been common for years), but in celebrity oriented series (Robertson competes in “Dancing with Stars” alongside a Grammy award winner and an Olympian, amongst others) makes one thing clear – networks view reality stars as talent. Where, in the early onset of reality television, cast members were once viewed as subjects in documentary-style series or contestants (“Survivor,” “Big Brother”), many reality stars today are, essentially, beloved television characters to fans, as much as Walter White in “Breaking Bad” or Liz Lemon in “30 Rock.” However, these characters are real and capable of stepping into plenty of other roles for networks. This fact makes these stars commodities whose value extends well beyond their original show.
This was probably never more evident than with MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” “Jersey Shore” followed a group of young housemates as they lived and partied together for the summer. The show quickly became the highest rated series in MTV history and soon after MTV began paying the cast per episode. In later seasons the cast made over $2 million each per season, each rivaling the payroll of many scripted television casts. Some reports suggest cast members were given raises for inciting more drama in the episodes.
MTV was savvy enough to recognize the cast as not reality subjects, but reality stars, talent and unique characters essential for the show’s success. The modern television world is dominated by reality television and it shows no signs of stopping. Reality has become the new reality.
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