Reality TV: Are we really getting a full idea of a person?

By Geena Levine

Reality television can be problematic to watch as it allows viewers to make assumptions about people that they only really know from edited pieces the show decides to air of them. This can lead to false perceptions of who a person really is and lead to negative criticisms of a person where it may not be warranted. 

Selling Sunsets Star Davina Patratz has been highly criticized as being the “villain” of the show in season 3. The show tends to highlight the negative things that she says and does and rarely, shows her as a good person. She is often seen on the show causing drama and conflict among the real estate agents and not listening to the viewpoints of others. 

In the season 3 finale she is shown starting an argument with another employee, Chriselle about her divorce and whose fault it really was. This has led to her being hated and getting a lot of backlash online, but is all this hate really justified or is this a product of the producers creating a character for her?

Davina Potratz during season 3

In an interview with Vulture she states that, “I can also tell you with certainty that you don’t know my entire personality. You don’t see very much of me — you only see maybe 10 percent of me. When you don’t see any other part, then your perception is only what you see: You think that person equals something negative, but whatever was shown was pretty harsh. That’s what you identify that person with, but that is not the entire person.” 

She claims that the show manipulates the footage in order to make her come off as a lot ruder than she really is. She explains how you only see a portion of who she is and never get a complete idea of who she really is as a person, because of the way the producers edit the footage. She explains in another interview with RadioTimes that when talking about an argument she had on the show with one of the agency’s bosses, Jason, “‘There’s a lot of joking around and fun that we’re having as well,” she told us. “And I don’t know if you necessarily see that, especially from my character on the show. You know, I’m not a one-dimensional person, nobody is, and you really cannot define anyone based on the show, right?”’. 

With that being said, are producers at fault for airing these clips, or is it the fault of the agents for saying what they said on the show? I think that this ethical issue becomes tricky when you look deeply into it. The allure of watching reality tv is seeing the arguments between castmates, so obviously this is what the producers are going to want to air, even if it makes the people look bad. However, I think that sometimes the producers can go overboard with their editing when portraying characters. Although they are using footage of what the star is actually saying in the moment, they are using it to put a negative spin on the character and often do not include parts of the conversation where the individual is coming off a lot nicer. 

I believe the main ethical issue here and what is difficult to put blame on is how the producers are able to create a false persona of a character, rather than the character being able to create their own persona. No matter how many positive things you say or do during filming, the producers are only going to air what they think is going to give them views, and typically that is not characters being nice to each other, but rather the huge arguments. Working together and spending so much time together outside of work, friends are bound to get into arguments, but the way that reality tv spins these arguments to create a persona for a person is ethically wrong and should not be allowed.