Why reality TV has never felt more relevant than under lockdown

At first, reality TV served as a means of escapism: a throwback to the good old days, when seeing singletons swap spit on an island turned your stomach for reasons unrelated to anxiety about the R-rate. Many have noted a newfound understanding for what once seemed like disproportionate aggression from Pooja, the meme-worthy contestant on Bigg Boss (the Indian version of the Celebrity Big Brother). Most days we are just one draining Zoom call away from a full-on Megan McKenna Celebrity Big Brother style meltdown, in the makeshift diary room of Instagram stories. The 90 Day Fiance franchise has capitalised by launching a quarantine special mini-series, following the lives of the show’s many dysfunctional couples, whose communication issues have been compounded by lockdown. Although it hasn’t yet aired, the finale to the beleaguered series 12 of Drag Race will go ahead with a lip sync competition recorded over Zoom – a move that has been met with near universal disappointment. Earlier this year, when Love Island presenter Caroline Flack died, viewers rightly questioned the ethics of ITV’s decision not to inform the cast and its choice to continue filming as if nothing had happened. In most cases, it turns out that reality stars are just like us – mindlessly ordering crap in bulk from Amazon to cope with the apocalypse and arguing with whoever they can get within shouting distance of.