Reality TV Is a Psychological Blood Sport

We need to get these people mental health
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2011 1:50 PM CDT
Russell and Taylor Armstrong arrive at a charity event, June 5, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The suicide of Real Housewives hubby Russell Armstrong ought to make us think twice about reality TV, which has become “the soft-bellied, 21st century American TV version of a gladiatorial contest,” writes Matt Zoller Seitz on Salon. “As your parents may have warned you, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. People are getting hurt.” We don’t know for sure why Armstrong killed himself, but it’s hard to imagine being on a show like Housewives helped.

It’s not just Armstrong, either; countless others have been hurt in the two decades this genre has existed. “Unscripted shows encourage, and sometimes cause, emotional damage,” Zoller Seitz writes. “That’s the whole point of their existence—the reason they get on the air, the reason we watch.” He thinks all such shows should have to psychologically screen contestants first—and have an independent psychologist on set to look after them. ““For years now, we have pretended that these shows are harmless trainwreck fun. That can't continue.”

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