My Wonderful Life

Death and Reality TV

posted on 1/16/12 by Staff

In anticipation of our appearance this Friday on ABC’s Shark Tank, we thought it would be appropriate to look at how other reality TV shows portray death and whether or not they have an impact on how we approach the topic in our own lives. 

Reality TV brings a vast number of harsh topics into our homes. Death, suicide, and murder are stories that garner high ratings and increasingly high press coverage.

Real Housewives of Atlanta County Phaedra Parks decided to start her own funeral services boutique. Russell Armstrong, an estranged husband from one of the stars of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, committed suicide earlier this year. In 2009, a contestant on a VH1 show called Megan Wants a Millionaire was the prime suspect in a murder case. Their reality TV star status threw them into the limelight, but did these stories help or hurt our society’s discussions about death? Death surrounds us, but do we really notice it? Death isn’t just a sensationalized story. It’s real life. People die every day, but it’s common for people to be afraid to talk about death. So how do you get people to honestly accept that death is a part of life worth talking about?

We are hoping our appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank brings a new aspect of death to light; one that isn’t as tragic or violent. We hope that the press coverage surrounding our appearance affects the way others approach the subject with their family and friends.


Image Source: Reality TV

1 Previous comment:

(1) On January 16, 2012, Shirley ( said:
Wow, congratulations on being on Shark Tank! Has it already been filmed?

This is a topic that fascinates me. For nearly 10 years I worked at a production company that created programs for FOX, Discovery, History Channel, TLC, and others. The biggest paradox came to how we treated natural vs unnatural deaths. Unnatural deaths such as violent homicides were somehow sanctified (I personally worked on many true crime shows.) The more brutal the crime, the higher the ratings.

Yet when it came to "natural" death or suicide, the networks were very squeamish. It was something considered "depressing" or "dark" and was to be avoided.

I've been very interested in how Bravo has been dealing with Russell's suicide. I read the message boards devoted to the show, and it strikes me how many viewers object to his presence on the show. They find it morbid, and wish that Bravo had "edited" him out of the season. Why is that?

Apologies for the long rant. Good luck in The Shark Tank, can't wait to see it!

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