If you're a fan of reality television, you inevitably have a favorite and a least favorite. You spend your time on the couch rooting devotedly for your favorite participant and wishing ill-will on your least favorite and the judges who keep him or her there. The villain on the show quickly becomes your own personal villain, and once they're finally voted out you feel victorious, relieved and ... wait, what now? Smooth sailing is reality television's worst enemy. The bad guy, as much as you hate him, is the fuel that feeds the fire of drama.
MSN recently released a list of Reality TV's Most Memorable Villains, which includes pain-in-the-ass royalty like Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth and Heidi and Spencer Pratt. These are people that we think have overstayed their welcome and squeezed 24 hours from their 15 minutes of fame.
The truth is, though, they're doing exactly what they should be doing and, more importantly, what they want to be doing. In one video posted with MSN's list, Matt Lauer interviews Stephen Battaglio, business editor at TV Guide Magazine about the science of reality television. For personalities like Heidi and Spencer, who seemed to become famous for no reason, "being on television and getting attention is the oxygen that sustains them," he said. Breaking the rules, which they recently did by leaving I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! and then begging to come back, just become part of the story, according to Battalgio.
"Shows like this are sort of managed chaos. You hope something interesting happens so people will show up [to watch] every night," he said.
And you do show up -- for the unpredictable drama, for the chance to spy on others and for the gratification of knowing you're not as terrible as a guy like Spencer.