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Why TikTok influencers are the new generation of reality TV stars

By Alma Fabiani

Jul 13, 2020

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While many different TikTok collab houses have been emerging in Los Angeles, their potential for growing into something bigger has also been noticed—both by TikTok influencers themselves and by TV studios. The essence of a good reality TV show is drama. Shows such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians (KUWTK), Jersey Shore and The Hills gathered a spectacular audience simply because we love gossiping. In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari went as far as calling it human nature.

“What is the link between KUWTK and TikTok collab houses?” some of you might wonder. Well, just like everyone else, TikTokers are prone to drama. Last Monday, the collab house called the Sway House went to another house, the Hype House, to confront TikTok star Chase Hudson about comments he had made earlier online. Earlier in the day, TikTok influencers from different rival houses had been bashing each others on Twitter, Instagram Live, and TikTok. This became known as the ‘TikTokalypse’. Now, does it not sound like the perfect brand new reality TV show beef?

Going back to the TikTokalypse, here’s exactly what happened afterwards on The Real Preteens of TikTok. Shortly after arriving at the Hype House mansion, the Sway House boys resolved the argument in private. At 1 a.m. the TikTok star from the Sway House Jaden Hossler tweeted: “we talked. no fighting. it’s settled.” On that same day, film critic Hemanth Kumar tweeted “This is a TV series waiting to be made. Who’s calling dibs on this one?”

Apparently, Kumar would be late to the party as it’s been revealed by The New York Times that “over the past several months, every major TikTok collective has already taken steps to pursue a potential reality show.”

The most-followed influencer on TikTok, Charli D’Amelio, is exploring the possibility of a reality TV show focused on her and her family. D’Amelio signed a production deal with Industrial Media, the producer of shows like American Idol and 90 Day Fiancé.

Production studio Wheelhouse is working with the Hype House on a reality TV show defined as “the modern day Mickey-Mouse club.” The Clubhouse, another TikTok influencer collective, is working with International Creative Management (ICM) to produce a show using an in-house team while also being in conversation with production company Concordia Studio.

Meanwhile, the Sway House and its management company TalentX haven’t signed anything yet, but have confirmed they have been holding meetings and exploring their options. Talking to The New York Times, Warren Lentz, TalentX’s CEO said: “It’s clear there’s a strong appetite and there’s white space that a streaming platform or network hasn’t stepped into. We have come up with five or six different show ideas that we’ve been talking with outlets about. I do know other houses are having those conversations as well.”

It seems pretty obvious that reality shows based on this new generation of influencers are on their way. And while watching TikTokers come up with video ideas doesn’t sound all that exciting, their complicated relationships and interactions with different collab houses definitely look like a good start. Don’t get too impatient, however, as these influencers’ age might be a problem for production companies. Unscripted shows featuring a similar age range are less common, especially without having an adult around.

But, even without having the chance to watch these feuds on a TV screen just yet, aren’t TikTok users already able to follow the drama on their phones? By contemplating to give collab houses their own reality TV shows, production companies might not be offering us the chance of learning more about these influencers’ lives, but, instead, they might have found the perfect way to steal TikTok’s thunder. Could TikTok be the end of reality TV shows as we know them?