I don’t watch any reality TV shows, and I certainly don’t watch any celebrity ones (doesn’t that defeat the purpose?), but since we had visitors over the weekend both X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing were on TV. It became apparent that John Sergeant is considered not a very good dancer by the judges, but the public seem to love him. Likewise, the judges on X Factor were disappointed when the public voted to keep Daniel Evans a couple of times, despite their view that he didn’t deserve to stay.
I’m going to call this the John Sergeant effect. In my view, an increasing number of the public are tired of reality TV competitions, and either vote to annoy the judges or vote based on criteria other than those which would normally win. They aren’t voting for the best singer or dancer, they’re voting for the person they find most interesting or amusing, or they’re voting for someone they know the judges don’t like.
The shows have stopped being entertaining, and so the public is voting in a way which increases their entertainment value.
I’m not sure if affects the overall result yet, certainly Daniel Evans was dumped in the end (as soon as he ended up in the bottom two, the judges got rid of him). I can see the same happening to John, that as soon as he fails to get enough votes to end up in the bottom two, he’ll be gone. But I think producers of reality TV shows should be taking note, that if people aren’t voting for the best performer they’re doing it for a reason, and they need to understand that reason.
Of course, outrage, shock and surprise just increase viewer numbers so they probably don’t really care too much.