The Reality Show Generation…

You can stop holding your breath folks, and you can sleep easy tonight because the kids featured in MTV’s newest and trashiest reality show “JerseyShore” announced earlier this week that their crying and whining paid off. They received that 200% salary increase they asked for, which will fund another season of drinking, smoking, hair gellin’, hot tubbin’ trash. At $30,000 each, per show, there’s no reason for them to stop acting a fool.

Twenty years ago, the message on TV was as simple as this: when we work hard, make honest decisions, and do right by others, we will be rewarded and paid fairly. Isn’t that what Bill Cosby, Danny Tanner, and Al Bundy taught us through their weekly TV sitcoms? Each of their characters
recognized the value of hard work and in turn influenced the way an entire generation viewed earning a paycheck.

Today Bill Cosby, Danny Tanner, and Al Bundy have lost their jobs due to the unfortunate extinction of TV sitcoms and the new kid on the block is Reality TV. Instead of trained, talented actors strategically placed to deliver a wholesome message, the networks look for average people willing to act like lunatics on national TV. And instead of life lessons, viewers learn about chaos, hate, sex, and… well… more hate and sex. And it pays off big time – just look at the Jersey Shore cast.

Today’s TV shows are teaching the Reality Show Generation that there isn’t any reason to get an education, work hard, or make good decisions. All they have to do is hit it big on a reality show and they’ll be set for life. The more of a jackass they are, the better.

Honestly, I don’t really care what the Reality Show Generation chooses to watch on TV, but I do start to get nervous when I think about them entering the workforce. After all, we’re the HR professionals who will have to manage their entrance, coach managers on how to ‘deal with them’, and work through the generation gaps. Just like when my generation barged in and got sassy about telecommuting and having ‘fun’ at work; they aren’t going to leave. You and I are going to be the ones fostering change and re-working our systems to incorporate them into our world. That can be a scary thought. Will their expectation for how we manage them be different? Will their demands be higher but their willingness to work hard be lower? Will they think that having a ‘real job’ is just something they do to waste time until they make it big in the Reality Show world? What kind of office culture will they thrive in/expect?

The questions go on in my mind forever.

Does anyone else worry about this or is it just me?

FOT Background Check

Marisa Keegan
Marisa is a Culture Coach for small and quickly growing organizations trying to establish the infrastructure required to create a company full of passionate, motivated, and engaged employees. She has held culture and engagement roles for two nationally recognized great places to work, founded the research and networking group Culture Fanatics, and is an industry recognized blogger. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and twin boys and is looking forward to the day she can bike across the country to raise money for MS research. @marisakeegan.


  1. working girl says:

    I worry because they’re so boring and people love them. Shouldn’t entertainment involve rediculously beautiful and/or funny people that always have the perfect comeback? You don’t need to turn on the TV to see normal people flubbing their lines, singing badly or engaging in competitive behaviors.
    Granted, you do have to turn on the TV to see them eating bugs in the jungle, so maybe that’s the appeal.

  2. Amy says:

    It is a scary thought. I can’t imagine the Situation taking direction from anyone. For the record, I’m a Jersey Girl all my life, and people like the JS cast are the reason we stopped going to Seaside oh, about 20 years ago…

  3. Kelly says:

    Has anyone seen the movie Idiocracy? I see a direct reflection in the direction this country is progressing to the situation portrayed in that movie. Talk about something that keeps me up at night…

  4. The “famous for being famous” generation is definitely on TV, and in the theaters. And the dumbing down of the American psyche follows. When we complain about the lack of an innovation economy, these are prime examples of the lack of original thought. No wonder I watch so little TV anymore. No wonder everyone is fascinated with the meltdown of Lindsay Lohan…

  5. I question whether Al Bundy is really a good role model. I question the validity of Married with Children and it’s wholesome message.
    Having gotten that off my chest, I do agree with you about the snottiness of our youth. Seems they are more disrespectful of traditions of the doing things for the right reason. I do worry about our future with this group of people leading us in the future. They seemed to have become the microwave generation. That means they want it now like microwave popcorn.
    Whining and complaining to get a pay raise is absurd. They should have been summarily dismissed.
    Thanks for a fantastic article.

  6. Tim Ruef says:

    Today’s Reality TV shows – particularly Jersey Shore present a misleading and disgusting picture to candidates, and to all residents of New Jersey I might add. I grew up in San Diego, and have lived in San Francisco, Colorado, Seattle, and New York City. New Jersey is one of the most beautiful places on earth. But you’re right, the idiots on this show – who aren’t even from New Jersey by the way, could care less about the message – the more moronic the better. They are conditioned to look for the quick easy buck….and they get it – that’s what is really sad.

  7. K says:

    Hmm… we’re using Jersey Shore to make sweeping generalizations about the attitudes and work ethic of an entire generation?
    Slightly problematic, no?
    JS cast members represent a pretty specific group of people. The reason they are popular is because they are ridiculous and outlandish- not because they represent a generation.
    People who share personality traits with the JS kids wouldn’t be attracted to office culture anyway.
    So, fear not. The new wave of cubicle dwellers won’t gather to fist-pump around the water cooler…

  8. Amy says:

    To write off a whole generation because of 8 idiots on TV or there counterparts on other MTV shows is very short sited.
    I work with and have nieces and nephews in this generation and none of them are anything like these idiots panning for the cameras. I’m not sure they even watch this nonsense. They are all in school, working or in the service(or combination of the above). I see intelligent, hard working young people trying to make the best out of a bad situation that WE put them in to. Sky high tuition rates, lack of jobs, lack of funding for schools, etc.
    To say these idiots are representative of the whole is like saying the hair bands of the 80’s are a prime example of what could be expected out of our generation.(or maybe it was)

  9. Valerie says:

    Take heart. I agree with Amy. These people are on TV because they are not the norm. I have teenagers who watch this stuff. Its like rubbernecking at a car crash. It doesn’t mean that the next generation in the workforce sees any value in it. It may even serve as a deterrent to those behaviors.
    I watch my teens and their friends and they work hard at school, extracurricular activities and volunteering. Don’t worry. The kids are alright! They live by the example of those they love.

  10. Alex says:

    It’s clear that you don’t have any idea about who’s watching these shows. It’s not just the “Reality Show Generation” (whatever that is–based on your argument, I assume you think it’s young people). Young people aren’t the only ones watching “Jersey Shore.” It’s everyone.
    Twenty years ago, writers were being paid to churn out a false reality of fairness and work ethics. Now they aren’t, and monsters and train wrecks are what interest people when they sit down to watch TV.
    People don’t need TV to tell them to work hard. They’ll do it anyways because it’s fulfilling and necessary. The nation–or “young people”–aren’t any worse off because of “Jersey Shore.” Yes, it’s vapid and mind-numbing, but what’s worse? Watching it? Or writing a blog about it?

  11. Gina says:

    Awesome post and everthing you wrote has worried me about reality t.v and the future generations. How are we going to deal with some of these self entitled monsters we’ve created?
    It’s so scarey this is what kids look up too,and I’ve noticed these kids have no communication skills or skills to deal with conflict in a non drama way. It’s sad,also whats up with this taking no responsiblity for their actions stuff? Are we creating a world of little socioathic personalities?
    Alex… I would say watching it is worse. Her writing about it was just making a point based on her opinion and it’s four paragraphs….really? which one is worse you ask? come on Alex!Don’t be over dramatic!Stupid comarison!

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