The Thriving Popularity of Reality Mining Shows

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The first reality show to dominate airwaves was MTV’s “The Real World,” which debuted as an instant hit sensation in 1992. However, PBS claims the very first reality series was “An American Family,” which opened with 12 episodes in 1973. Fast forward years later and “Survivor” has recently been renewed for their 29th and 30th seasons.

As the economy plummeted, which coincided with the declining housing market, people began looking for more dramatic entertainment. One of Discovery’s most watched television shows, “Gold Rush” documents the efforts of Yukon men attempting to strike it rich in Alaska’s wilderness. Now in its fourth season, the show has expanded to gold mining operations in Alaska, the Klondike and even Guyana.

“Gold Rush” is often wrought with moments where audiences smack their foreheads with the palm of their hands, thinking, “Did they really just do that?” However, these dramatic television shows document the intense ups and downs associated with mining. It’s not a Powerball Instant Millionaire club and the saying, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” gives gold mining a stark reality.

Giving today’s followers a glimpse into the hard lives of those attempting to strike it rich in the San Francisco Gold Rush of 1849, finding large nuggets of gold is anything but an everyday experience. Continually tuning into “Gold Rush,” Americans have intense hope that these inexperienced men can live the ultimate American dream – striking it rich.

Spurring a following of similar mining shows, Spike now features “COAL,” a show that highlights the dangers of coal mining. National Geographic Channel has their own version of “Gold Diggers,” while Discovery Channel has opted for a spinoff of their successful gold mining series by exploring the world of underwater gold mining operations on “Bering Sea Gold.”

While the verses from ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money” give gold mining a stark, cold and harsh reality, these classic Swedish pop lyrics ring true: “I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay/Ain’t it sad.” Still, Americans tune in weekly in hopes that gold miners and gem hunters will become overnight multi-millionaires. Giving hope to Americans during a recession, gold fever is once again grabbing hold of audiences. A cyclical ailment that has tortured generations, gold fever extends back to the Roman Empire and even Ancient Egypt.

Nothing new, gold fever fuels greed and hunger, creating a cycle that incites hope, desire and intense longing for financial security.  Embrace progress and “dare to be different! You’ll never get rich doing the same things as the poor majority.”

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