In 1948, Allen Funt introduced Candid Camera, a show that placed ordinary people in unusual situations. It was so popular that it ran with some pauses until the 1990's. That same premise of normal people in abnormal situations is still the backbone of the genre. I use the word "normal people" with some hesitation as the new characters appear to be acting. It seems that anyone can be a celebrity if they are on a reality show.
In 1961, the chairman of the Federal Communications Comission, Newton N. Minow, declared television to be a "vast wasteland". It will truly be the epitome of vastness when the local news is delivered by the Biggest Loser, after an Extreme Makeover, being a Survivor of Dancing with the Stars!