The Voice premiered its fourth season on NBC Monday night. Like many reality shows before it, minor changes were made in the show's off-season (Shakira and Usher replaced Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green), but the premise remains the same: musical competition.
While creating a hit reality show seems easily replicable — find something to compete over, have someone judge those competitors, whittle down the competitors, and declare a winner — it is, however, much easier said than done: For every American Idol there is a Rachel Vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. While the formula may remain the same, it is inconceivable to imagine a world without reality television. For all there is to complain about reality TV, people are watching and that's all that matters.
The Voice returned Monday night with solid ratings. The show's 2-hour blind auditions averaged a 4.7 rating with adults 18-49 and 13.4 million viewers. That is half a point better than The Voice opened with in its fall premiere. That number isn't as great as American Idol's 2013 premiere, but for a ratings-starved NBC, it's a step in the right direction.
The Voice adds to the already steady quadrant of reality television shows that have recently rated as top 20 shows: American Idol, Survivor, The Amazing Race, and The Bachelor. These are shows that have been on the air for years, and while there are minor changes to the shows each year — whether it be new hosts or wrinkles added to the competition — they remain virtually the same as when they appeared on air.
I believe that we are in the golden age of television. With shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men setting the standard for drama and sitcoms like Parks and Recreation and Community changing what we think is funny along with the many ways we can watch TV (Hulu, Netflix, any web-series), it is a good time to be a TV lover. Meanwhile, reality shows like The Voice attract viewers while Top Chef is one of the best reality shows on TV, not to mention the best food-related show.
Reality TV has appeal. It can suck you in and next thing you know, you've watched eight episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians in a row. While I cannot say I am a fan of The Voice because it is groundbreaking, I can admit that the procedure it follows works. Even though the form of reality TV is stagnant, viewers continue to tune in, which makes it safe to say they will continue to do so.
The Voice may not be on the air forever, but another reality show with a steady formula will take its place.