Reality television has become an international phenomenon, but what's it really like to be on a reality show?
Thousands of people every day audition to be on a reality show. CBS47's Brittney Hopper sat down with two local reality TV stars, to see what the fascination is, how its changed their lives, was it all worth it, and most importantly… would they do it again.
You can't turn it off but reality TV shows are everywhere. Many viewers have swapped scripted comedies and dramas for reality shows. The stars are people like you and me, regular people who tried out and were lucky enough to be selected out of a pool of thousands of applicants.
But what impact do these shows have on the stars and our society? We tracked down two well known reality show stars from the Central Valley to find out.
Kasey Kahl was portrayed as a villain on The Bachelorette and Andy Finch, a professional snowboarder, went far on the most recent showing of The Amazing Race.
Two very different people portrayed in their shows in very different ways.
Kasey Kahl was born and raised in Clovis. The Clovis High School graduate first shot to fame on season 6 of The Bachelorette. He was a popular character for all the wrong reasons. "When they put a camera in front of you and you consume a lot of alcohol and you're partying and having fun… it changes the way you act," said Kasey.
He says he went on the show to find true love, but had no idea what he was in for. "It's so hard to deal with cause we're just normal people that had the opportunity to go on a show that we thought was going to be really cool and really fun and have a great opportunity and we're not personally attacking other people, yet we get personally attacked everyday in our lives," said Kasey.
His on camera antics, such as getting a rose tattoo on his wrist, caused a frenzy with the tabloids. Just last month, Kahl’s mugshot was plastered on TV and online across the country after he was arrested at a Fresno nightclub. Just a simple Google search of his name shows how many people have an opinion of Kasey. Some are fans but to others, he became a joke, which was something he wasn't prepared for. "It really put a damper on me and I kind of... I wasn't the positive happy go lucky Kasey as I used to be," said Kasey.
Another reality star from the Central Valley is Andy Finch, an Olympic athlete and professional snowboarder, and he’s also a Bullard High School graduate. Andy was on the Amazing Race and says having a camera around 24/7 can make it easy to forget it's there.
Andy says a person shouldn't go on a reality TV show for fame and fortune but these days, for many people, especially the younger generation, it's become an obsession. “If there's a person looking to get on reality TV just for the fame and stardom of it, then they're going on for the wrong reasons," said Andy.
So what is it about reality TV that attracts so many people? And how is this latest trend in pop culture changing the way we view reality?
CBS47 spoke with Fresno State Professor Michael Botwin who is an expert on evolutionary psychology and human nature. He often uses reality show clips as examples during his lectures. "People are inherently interested in other people’s lives and I think people are attracted to the reality, pseudo reality of it," said Dr. Botwin.
Dr. Botwin says there's a reason why there are so many reality shows. You can find a reality show on just about anything. Whether its love, being a housewife, finding the next hot singer, or even owning a pawn shop, Dr. Botwin says each show attracts a different audience, striking a cord in people who can relate and making people think they too could do what those on TV do and maybe even win a competition. "Now there are so many reality shows people want to be part of reality shows because everybody wants their preverbal Warhol 15-minutes of fame," said Dr. Botwin.
Still, it has it's perks. For Andy, being on the Amazing Race won him a trip to Ireland, a trip to Dubai, a new car and more than $12,000, plus a great deal of attention he's getting. "I mean it's funny cause I worked so hard for 13 years to create my snowboard career and a lot of people would recognize me from that, but it's just a drop in the bucket compared to what Amazing Race has done," said Andy.
Kasey went on to do The Bachelor Pad and next month will be on VH1's Celebrity Couples Rehab, a show he says was unlike his previous two experiences. "It's one of those things that absolutely changed my life and changed my point of view of my own life," said Kasey.
When both of the local Reality TV stars were asked if it was all worth it, their responses were a reality check unto themselves.
Kasey said, "I'm not going to lie. If the opportunity presents itself like this last show, like Celebrity Couples Retreat, if there are more shows like that, that have strong powerful messages, I would not pass it up."
Andy said, "I mean the real prize was just the experience of traveling around the world.. That's something you can't put a price on, not even that million dollars."
Experts say the future of Reality TV is going to be on the internet, where anyone with a digital camera and an internet connection can upload a video and become an instant celebrity.