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…Still watching!

A reality show is being made from Netflix’s most-watched series, Squid Game. Like the series, Squid Game: The Challenge will start with 456 players, but no one will die, and the grand prize will be $4.56 million, a record for the reality TV genre. The 10-part show will feature challenges inspired by the original series as well as new ones. It will be filmed in the UK next year and will soon be open for entries from all over the world.

Reality TV has been a real addiction for viewers since the genre’s inception in the 1970s. The idea of putting together a show about everyday life events was linked to PBS. And so in 1973, The American Family was born, and because, let’s face it, we love to watch the lives of others, the show attracted 10 million viewers a week. But reality television didn’t really come into its own until later, when the genre was virtually reinvented by MTV with the launch of The Real World in 1992. The series featured messy sexual escapades and hormone-driven teens and 20-somethings, but also included conversations about sexuality, race, and addiction never before seen on television. Then again, the real explosion came later, in the early 2000s, when the genre was mixed with competition shows, celebrities came along and gave up their waistlines for a bit of fun, and voyeurism became a huge media circus that no one wanted to miss out on. Looking for the one? Go to the TV! Want to lose weight? Go on TV!

A classic of the genre, Big Brother was a Dutch reality TV show that first aired in the Netherlands in 1999 and was soon afterwards broadcast in several countries. In the show, the contestants, the “housemates”, live in a purpose-built house, isolated from the outside world. The name Big Brother was inspired by George Orwell’s novel 1984, and the housemates are constantly monitored throughout their stay in the house by live television cameras and body microphones. Big Brother has enjoyed no fewer than 504 seasons in more than 62 franchises in over 62 countries and regions.

The craze was certainly brought to its peak by Jackass. Grown men doing stupid, childish, and dangerous things just for the fun of it. Because you could say it’s nonsense, yet the series ran for three seasons on MTV and launched six different movies. It’s reality TV, stunt TV and, of course, mostly idiocy.

Created by Paris Hilton, brought to perfection by her assistant Kim Kardashian and of course Kris Jenner! Keeping up with the Kardashians started with a “leaked” (?) sex tape, continued as a hugely successful reality TV show and has now grown into a brutal multi-billion dollar media and retail empire, and it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that the family has had an unparalleled impact on American pop culture.

Reality TV is perhaps more popular today than ever before, and its influence on the world can still be seen today in a wide variety of genres. Just think of American Idol, launched in 2002, which has featured performers such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson, who has just recently achieved EGOT status, with Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards to her name. Shows such as Survivor (2000-) and RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-) have sparked serious conversations about openness, feminism, gender and, race, topics that television had previously mostly shied away from.