Does Reality TV Lead to Excessive Drinking?

Playing Does Reality TV Lead to More Audience Drinking?

Could reality TV shows lead kids astray with their portrayal of over-the-top drinking?

ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork has first-hand reality-show experience, having done one season of “The Bachelor.” However, that was 11 years ago.

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“That feels like another lifetime!” he says, and adds, “Alcohol was an element, but it wasn’t the focus.” He is concerned that both scripted and reality shows now seem to show characters with a drink constantly in hand. “I worry that kids see that and think ‘Heck, on TV everyone always has alcohol, so shouldn’t I?’”

Doctor on Demand Dr. Tanya Elliot agrees. She’s especially worried about the effect of these pervasive images on her college-age brother, who admires reality-TV bartenders and wants to emulate them. “But I watch it too!” she admits.

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Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra points out that the people on these shows aren’t actors, and are probably nervous and turning to alcohol to feel less self-conscious. Dr. Stork also thinks that viewers are attracted by histrionic, over-the-top behavior. “You never know what’s going to happen. People behave in really bizarre ways.”

“I think the takeaway here is that you have to be very careful what your kids and adolescents are consuming when it comes to television,” concludes Dr. Stork.