By: Winifred Fordham Metz. So, you're home on the couch in front of your new plasma screen with a few hours to kill. You start channel-surfing and come across a show with people slurping a concoction of maggots and hissing beetles for a chance to win 50 grand. On channel after channel you see shows with truckers driving across treacherously icy roads in Alaska , two people telling folks what not to wear, and crab fisherman braving a mother of a storm. Who in the world are New York and Tila Tequila, and why do they have their own shows? Just when did reality TV get to be so popular?
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Reality television has the inexplicable quality to it that makes it utterly addicting to watch. To get technical, the genre kicked off back in the '70s, when PBS had the idea that the goings-on of every day people was worthy of its own show. Thus, An American Family was created in , and the pull of voyeurism enamored 10 million viewers a week. Reality television didn't have its heyday until later though, when the genre was practically reinvented with the inception of The Real World in