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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 10:41 GMT
Has Reality TV gone too far?

US TV network Fox has caused a storm with its show Temptation Island - which tests the fidelity of couples.

Critics say that a show which attempts to break up relationships to titillate viewers marks a new low in the American entertainment industry.

Temptation Island will try to emulate the success of other reality TV shows such as Channel 4's Big Brother and the BBC's Castaway. CBS's Survivor finale drew an audience of nearly 52 million - the most viewers ever for a summer series.

What do you think of this type of show? Are people being exploited to boost audience ratings?


Too many of us let the kind of insipid drivel in the media stop us thinking

Colin Humber, UK
Congratulations to the man who said he had given up his TV! Too many of us let the kind of insipid drivel in the media stop us thinking!
Colin Humber, UK

As far as the discussions about what is appropriate for TV shows is concerned I think its a matter of personal interests. Every one should have the right to expression and I seriously mean it. If the other person does not like it, he/she should not bother about it. From the viewpoint of TV companies, it could be an attempt to increase their ratings. They have every right to do so while they are not intruding into the personal life of an individual without his/her permission.
Rupesh Tyagi, INDIA

TV programming in the United States is nothing more than a reflection of it's own politics. Eight years of liberal Democrats produce the things we publicly reject. A more moderate government should produce more moderate results. Let us hope so.
Jim Raye, USA

I think an interesting reality TV show would be to post cameras all over the building where the TV network executives dream up this tripe!
Peter Nelson, USA

C'mon people, it's just a stupid show. No one is forcing anyone to watch. If you don't like what's on the TV then read a book!
David Atocha, Texas

What scares me the most, is that the people that "star" in, and the people that watch these programmes are eligible to vote. But that would explain a few things.
Adrian, Canada

Programs like this have prompted me to head to the gym far more often

Thom, USA
Programs like this have prompted me to head to the gym far more often, study Spanish, take a cooking class, and read loads of books at the local library. As far as the television goes, a weekly fix of ER and a daily ten minute shot of the news works nicely.
Thom, USA

This is really the same as all debates about TV content - nobody is forced to watch it. With a myriad of poor quality channels and programmes now available, all manner of trash TV can be viewed at any time of day. If you can be bothered, try to track down the tiny fraction of decent TV. Alternatively, do other things far more interesting than watching and complaining about TV programmes. If you want to watch this stuff, go ahead. If you don't, then do the best thing - turn it off.
James Stringer, UK

Some people will do anything for money and sadly, this type of show highlights the depths to which a human will plunge in order to be recognised and, make money if successful. There will always be those who enjoy participating and watching this type of program and good luck to them. If that is the level of their intellect then it's their choice.

I am so sick of networks promoting cheap programming "for the people by the people" in order to save celebrity fees. This is nothing short of exploitation but, if a participant doesn't mind being used, again, it's their choice. I rather think that some participants may, in the future cringe at their lack of good judgement and taste - when they grow up that is. My choice is not to watch particular programs - networks take note.
Di Stewart, USA

I take exception to Chris Klein's comments regarding American audiences. Sweeping generalisations such as his are just an opportunity to bash America. I am English and I have lived in the USA for twenty-four years. Americans are no less discerning than anyone else. I have several friends here that don't even have TV's in their houses. Because these shows are on TV it does not mean everyone watches them. The reason TV companies love these shows is because they are inexpensive to produce. No super ego stars to pay huge amounts of money to. Potentially large voyeuristic audiences who love to see people fail. What we are really witnessing here is another episode of the devolution of society. Enjoy!
Amanda Bradley, Seattle USA

There is no limit to bad taste; the worse it is the bigger the audience, and the TV executives know it.

A Andersen, Australia
There is no limit to bad taste; the worse it is the bigger the audience, and the TV executives know it.
A Andersen, Australia

The reality shows that have become so popular show how sad our society has become. People spend too much time with their televisions. And you have to wonder what kind of life they have if what it takes to make their life exciting is to watch someone else. Wonder if they ever heard the phrase "get a life". They obviously need one of their own.
C. S. White, USA

The television programs are nothing more than trash, and an insult to our intelligence so one more piece of junk will not make any difference...
Derek James, UK

The majority of comments posted here plainly show that this program is a tasteless and harmful waste of time. Let's put our money where our mouth is and let the sponsors of this program know that we won't buy their products as long as they sponsor this kind of trash. And for Pete's sake, change the channel!
Bonnie Redfearn, US

Get ready, Britain ... if this takes off, you'll be next!

E Hoff, US
Of course it's to boost ratings. If you ask me to rate the reality of this show on a scale of 1-10, I would honestly rate 1. Such an idiotic theme on national television(yet another 'who wants to marry a multi-millionaire' show)
Manian, USA

The problem is with those who devise and put these kinds of programs on and those who watch them

R. McNaughton Phillips, USA
The problem with these shows is not what it does to the people who agree to participate - they are obviously shallow, self-absorbed half-wits. The problem is with those who devise and put these kinds of programs on and those who watch them.
R. McNaughton Phillips, USA

To berate the US for "inflicting" this show on us is to forget that they also brought us Hill Street Blues, LA Law, ER, NYPD Blue, The Sopranos and more. Don't forget that the UK gave the world the Beatles - but also Black Lace!!
Andrew Skinner, UK

This show is very cool, we really enjoy watching it. I think your problem is that all you people are way too old to understand these kind of shows! You don't have to watch it anyway so it is your own choice. How come everybody is criticising these kinds of shows, but in reality you are watching them secretly - be honest - we at least are honest!
Susi and Toni, Austria

I stopped watching TV about a year ago and my life has become so much more enriched. I believe the mindless pulp shown on today's television has got to a level now where it's basically voyeuristic pornography for people who cannot sustain a life without it! This show is one fine example and is digging the pit deeper.
Simon, Belgium (ex pat from UK)

I think it's great because it's got me reading books again

Leon, UK/US
These reality shows are nothing more than going to some boring relative's house and having to sit through their home videos. I gave survivor a try but didn't last through one episode, then last night put Temptation Island on for as long as I could stand it - about 5 minutes. I think it's great because it's got me reading books again.
Leon, UK/US

I fail to see the problem. They're not married and they have no kids. Therefore neither the churches or family campaigners have a base to complain from. They actually isn't anything legally or morally to tie them together! They could split tomorrow and the only people hurt would be themselves.
Alex Banks, Wales

All TV is titillation, voyeuristic, and exploiting something or somebody. How can these shows be regarded as any different to a news team that milks someone's pain? If you watch TV accept the reality - you enjoy it.
Tommy, UK,

We really do get the sort of media we deserve - I am expecting "America's Funniest Gangland Shootings" to be the next big attention grabber.
Mark Longden, UK

If someone volunteers to go on this program, then it would seem obvious to me that they are either willing to do anything to get on TV, in which case, let them get on with it, or they are not serious about their relationship in the first place! Either way, they are volunteers - what's the big deal? If you don't want to watch it...use the "off" switch!
Jenny, England

I find the show disturbing because it condones adultery and infidelity and says that it's okay to have wandering eyes, lustful thoughts, etc. People, especially children, watch up to 30 hours of TV a week and if they are saturated with this kind of garbage, they will grow up with warped values and no morals.
Jeff, US

I agree with Mark B. If these couples are ignorant enough to not foresee the potentially negative consequences on their relationships then that is their problem. Personally I don't endorse this program and I've already been disgusted by the preview of the upcoming show at the end of the first show. Nonetheless I'm sure many will watch - like a horror film you just can't close your eyes to.
Ralph Miranda, US

It really is harmless

Elisa, New York, NY, USA
Despite my good sense, I did watch the first episode of the show, for the first and last time. It really is harmless, I believe, because no one in their right mind could or should take the people on it seriously. It is entirely composed of immature couples in an unrealistic situation (reality TV?). The only damage I see it causing is via its cast of characters' ultra-skinny physiques and the image presented. It would probably be more tempting if they presented everyone on the island with some good food - now that's a real temptation island.
Elisa, New York, NY, USA

I'm afraid we've kissed goodbye to quality programming forever. However if nothing else, these 'reality' shows must be looked upon as good recruitment tools. The production companies find the most socially inept, morally reprehensible and 'game for a laugh' wannabes to enable them to find the presenters of tomorrow's tripe. Need I remind you of the currently 'blossoming' careers of 'Nasty' Nick, Craig and Man-eater Mel from the all too painfully real 'Big Brother'.
R. Southwell, UK

Just another show for yet more people who want to have their '15 minutes of fame'. This is hardly 'reality', just people who desperately want to be on television.
Arno, Scotland

It's very cheesy but I guarantee people will watch it when it comes on to our UK screens, because sadly this sort of viewing is what a large percentage of our society enjoys watching.
Alex, UK

It's a pretty sad idea for a show

Brandon, USA
It's a pretty sad idea for a show. We Americans already have a bad reputation for our programming and this makes Jerry Springer look tame. I too, am grateful for receiving the BBC America channel. Our society's values are already low but now this type of show gives our young the message that monogamy is not only not valued, but that our promises and commitments are now worthless. I hope the show proves to be a total bomb!
Brandon, USA

Anyone who takes part in a programme like this deserves all they get. Anyone who watches it does too.
Steve Hunt-Anschütz, England

Any person or organisation that uses suffering - emotional or physical - to generate profits are doing so in a wholly exploitative manner. Inciting the worst side of people for gratification and ridicule is a throwback to medieval morality. The popularity of such shows plays on people's normally suppressed darker sides that we can really do without, especially for lining the pockets of untouchable businessmen laughing all the way to the bank crying 'suckers!'.
Simon Andrew, UK

I didn't see the programme last night, but listened to a spirited discussion about it this morning on Washington DC's radio breakfast show. I don't think you can judge the USA by the programmes it invents¿ some people here love it, some people despair that trying to break up a relationship is seen as entertainment here. This radio station, incidentally, was derisory about the BBC's Castaway; because the people on the show got no money... they couldn't see the 'point' of it.
Sue, USA but British

Reality TV - more like Voyeur TV, it is tacky, popular and cheap to make

John Ross, UK
Reality TV - more like Voyeur TV, it is tacky, popular and cheap to make. That is why the production companies and broadcasters love it so much. Typical of most TV anywhere which caters for the lowest common denominator.
John Ross, UK

This whole reality TV concept is just a bunch of nonsense. It's so passe' since MTV has been airing similar shows since the beginning of time. Personally, I work too long and too hard (as we all do), and my spare time is much better spent doing other things.
Freddy Coleman, Houston, Texas

It shows how sad people are, what they're willing/accepting to watch - and they call this entertainment. Breaking up in serious relationships is anything but entertaining.
Rahul Vikram, India

Where do you sign up again?

Jim, UK
Hark I hear the sound of people desperate enough to do anything to get on television, including pretending to be a couple and fall for someone else on national TV. Its just like Jerry Springer but on a desert island with prettier people. Where do you sign up again?
Jim, UK

Obviously it is going to be tacky, worthless titillation.
Can't wait to see it.
Larry, UK

Lets face it, it's America. So if someone does fall to temptation, they'll no doubt sue the program makers for allowing it to happen.

With the local channels in Venezuela dominated by soaps, TV is bad enough here with the likes of Temptation Island. Reach for the lowest common denominator and you'll almost always have good viewing figures. It just reflects the trash mentality of the FOX executives and their blatant disregard for anything resembling "culture" or "reality" for that matter.
Richard Smith, Venezuela

We are turning into a mediocracy - we watch soaps about the dull lives of ordinary people, and we watch the real dull lives of real ordinary people. Then we reward their mediocrity by giving them their own TV programmes or sending them off on holidays paid for by the rest of us. It used to take talent and hard work to become famous or to get your own TV programme. Now all you have to do is camp it up on Reality TV. Car crashes and death have become entertainment and we aspire to nothing more than cooking and decorating. TV is helping Britain go down the rubbish chute!
Carl, UK

Lets face it, there are people who would do anything to get on TV. They fulfil their dreams while we get to laugh at them. If they are too self-absorbed to spot the potential pitfalls, then that's their problem. That's show business!
Mark B, UK

I can think of few things less interesting than watching to see whether a self-glorifying person "falls" for an artificial mate in an artificial setting

John B, UK
Why don't they just put a lot of randy couples in a big room and stick a load of video cameras in the room? That seems to be the way TV is going. Personally I can think of few things less interesting than watching to see whether a self-glorifying person "falls" for an artificial mate in an artificial setting while watched by cameras all the time.
John B, UK

The world is generally a happy beautiful place. The media survive on just a very small part, the bad part. Don't be baffled by this sort of stuff. Just worry about your own life and how you affect others. The rest can be a dumb as they like. The big picture does not change any.
Geoff Hunt, UK

What exactly has this got to do with reality?
Jonathan Daykin, UK

This is a stupid idea that shows the human nature nastier desire to see the other's fail. It's an unfair situation for those who are involved on this trap and don't really show the true emotion or personality of no one. The question is - what is the real intent of this game? What propositions this should show us?
Ciro A. Consorti, Brazil

Programs like this are meaningless. But still, I do watch them and don't change the channel

Aitebaar, Japan
Similar programs are being shown in Japanese channels. Although it's not exactly a fidelity check like Temptation Island, here they pick volunteers, e.g., two men and a woman, and set them on a trip for say 1 week. And the woman will be asked to choose one man from the two. And the other guy lamenting or sobbing would be on the highlights of the program. Anyway, programs like this are meaningless. But still, I do watch them and don't change the channel.
Aitebaar, Japan

The only people being exploited here are the people that volunteer to participate in these shows...and since it's their choice, they are not really being exploited. I myself, will be curious to watch 'Temptation Island'. It's really not that bad, and should be nothing to worry about if the participating couples trust each other 100%, and really do love each other as there really should be no temptation. If couples separate from this TV show, then it is their own fault and not that of the show's.
Nicola, Australia

We get the TV we deserve. Just as we get the government we deserve.
Gerald Rayner, UK

It's not surprising that the Liberal media in the US is undermining core family value.
Ali Baaj, USA

No more Big Brother trash PLEASE. That was bad enough
Stuart Anderson, UK

This tells us as much about the population of the USA as it does about the producers

Chris Klein, UK
No one is forced to watch this rubbish. US TV companies will only produce this stuff if they think there is an audience. This tells us as much about the population of the USA as it does about the producers.
Chris Klein, UK

If wannabe's are foolish enough to go on this type of programmes in the vain hope it is a short cut to fame, then let them. As long as they don't complain afterwards that it didn't represent their true personalities.
David Mercer, Wales

If I can't spend two weeks away from my partner without being unfaithful, then I don't think the problem lies with the TV company!
Mark, Austria

As long as there are people willing to watch trash like this, of course TV Networks will continue to come up with shows like these. Any couples willing to participate cannot be serious in their commitment to start off with.

Are they really committed relationships or just shams to get on TV?

James Jeffrey, USA, but English
I watched this programme last night to see what all the fuss is about. It is, as far as I can see, a vehicle for the "contestants" to try and make the big time, along the lines of the "Survivor" group last year. From the brief glimpse of these people yesterday, both couples and singles have an agenda, which I suspect is to get into the entertainment business. With this in mind are they really committed relationships or just shams to get on TV?
James Jeffrey, USA, but English

I don't understand why anyone would want to watch such tacky stuff. Forget about it being "morally wrong" or a "new low in broadcasting" - this is an inane idea. And anyone who goes on this show is probably not really a committed couple anyway. I'll be exercising my right not to watch in hopes that no one else does either. I'll play a good CD instead.
Allison, USA

I do not watch TV and have not done so for over 10 years. I was told about this programme at work and found it hard to believe that it was real. I thought that it was people put on the island with an already set plan or script.
Mark, USA

Live life to the full. Get off the couch and go out and live your own life. You don't need the crutch of watching simulated life in these "reality" shows.
A. Watson, Switzerland

So this is called 'Reality TV'? If being trapped on an island with 26 scantily clad men is 'reality' then maybe I'm missing out in life!
Helen, UK

American TV is pretty tacky anyway. Temptation is just a follow up to the equally bad Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire. We don't need programs that just exhibit the worse side of people; we see enough of that on the news! I am just glad that we get BBC America or I think I would crack up.
Ian, USA

We in Europe, accept that infidelity is natural and has nothing to do with ending of 'the relationship'

Michael J Turberville, London, UK
I doubt this show would be popular with European contestants. Unlike the Americans who have a puritanical belief that fidelity is the root basis of a good marriage, we in Europe, accept that infidelity is natural and has nothing to do with ending of 'the relationship'.
Michael J Turberville, London, UK

We can always vote with the remote! If the general viewing public are stupid enough to watch these programmes, the programme makers will force feed us with dumbed-down reality TV until we switch channels en masse.
Andy Millward, UK

What sort of couple would actually agree to go on this show? Surely only superstar-wannabes, and therefore it's hardly 'reality' TV. These people will be out to be as controversial as possible to launch themselves into the limelight.
C Nolan, Cambridge

Exploitation? I thought the contestants volunteered to go on the programme.
Andrew Dowle, UK

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See also:

10 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Storm on Temptation Island
08 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Reality TV bandwagon rolls
23 Dec 00 | Entertainment
The year of reality TV
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