Keeping Up with the Voice of the Real Housewives in an Amazing Race...or something like that. Reality shows have made an indelible mark on television viewing. The grandparent of them all, MTV's "The Real World," debuted in 1992. Though the cast used their own words, show runners interpreted them, presenting the network's version of reality. Producers manipulate circumstances to achieve the most drama.
In 2000, "Survivor" and "Big Brother" competitions came on the scene. Others followed, and soon many varieties or reality TV were on the air, including dating ("The Bachelor," 2002), informational ("The Dog Whisperer," 2004), makeover ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," 2003), lifestyle ("The Biggest Loser," 2004), and talent ("America's Got Talent," 2006).
Reality shows were not only insanely popular, they were also cheap to produce. In 2009, the budget for a typical one-hour drama episode ran $1 to $2 million and went significantly higher for very popular series featuring highly paid casts or complex sets. On the other hand, a reality show installment typically cost a relatively modest $100,000 to $500,000 [source: Gornstein]. The bloom may be off the rose, however. The number of new unscripted series has been increasing, but fewer become solid hits [source: Hibberd]. That's a sad reality.