A New Wave of Reality Television: "Summer Break"

By Uloop Archives on June 20, 2013

Like most summer nights, I find myself on Tumblr, scrolling and hastily re-blogging appealing posts on my timeline. It wasn’t until Wednesday night I came across a gif with the words, “Every summer has a story. This is ours. @SUMMERBREAK HAS BEGUN. Spend your summer with a group of LA kids sharing their lives in #realtime!”

Instantly, I was hooked. Forget about The Real World, a program that completely changed how we look at reality television today. “Summer Break” takes advantage of the growing technology at our fingertips. The best part is, you won’t need a TV. According to The Wall Street Journal“Summer Break” is “a reality show of sorts that will exist exclusively on social-media sites like Twitter and Tumblr, and is intended to be viewed on the mobile devices that dominate the lives of its target audience.”

I was a little skeptical of this because there’s already controversy and drama surrounding teens and social media. The fact that producer Peter Chernin, one of the most influential businessmen in Hollywood, wants to profit off of this generation’s interest in exploiting themselves online is both brilliant and disturbing in itself. The television crew trails the group of teens sporadically, recording segments to accommodate their online updates.

The show aired on Monday, June 17. The gist of this social revolution: A group of nine LA-bound teens are spending one last summer together before most of them leave for college. Four girls and five guys will be telling their stories and sharing their lives on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, and even Vine. For eight weeks, the nine cast members will compose tweets and shoot videos, then submit them to a Dropbox app on his or her phone that grants access for the producers to see every photo and video taken. The show’s in real time, so within 24 hours, professionals will post the media online in short, daily clips

“Summer Break” is different than regular reality shows in the sense that a large production team and editors will not significantly manipulate the action for months at a time, then air it at a later date. Instead, the show allows for the teens to be in control of what they want people to see; a blessing, but also a curse, if not used properly. They have complete freedom in what they post, as long as it’s not illegal. Chernin Group, the filmmaker/marketing business presiding over “Summer Break,” yearns for the teenagers to produce their own stories with the help of online users and fan responses.

Ben Fritz from WSJ reports, “Producers will have only modest influence on what the “Summer Break” teens do each day, meaning drama isn’t guaranteed.”

I’m actually happy about this because most reality shows are so moronic, you can tell when story lines are made just for the hell of it. In this case, the possible tension is arguably believable.

An executive producer, Brandon Wilson claims, “We’re going into this blind in a sense. I don’t know where the show is going moment to moment.”

One thing’s for sure, the show is in the palm of our hands. Literally. “Summer Break’s” success depends on the number of followers, mentions, views, and subscribers on social media using our tablets and smart phones. With the teenage/young adult audience’s rising interest in technology, “Summer Break” may overwhelmingly be remembered as the start of the striking alteration to reality television.

To get hooked, follow “Summer Break” and each of the nine cast members on these social platforms: Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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