The networks, and especially cable channels, like reality shows because they're cheaper to produce than scripted shows. Donald Trump's presidential campaign spent half as much money as Hillary Clinton's, but Trump still won the states necessary for him to win the election; the star of NBC's hit reality show The Apprentice, produced by the same company that unleashed Survivor on the world, beat the odds.
And even though reality shows aren't really "real"—they're partly scripted to maximize drama, and the people on-screen, despite not being professional actors, are often seen acting out for the camera—they indulge viewers' appetite for voyeurism and rubbernecking, just as Trump indulged in racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic comments to woo like-minded voters.
My supervisor at work reminded me of the scene in Back to the Future in which Marty McFly is trying to convince Doc Brown, in 1955, that he's traveled back in time from 1985.
Doc asks Marty who's the president of the United States 30 years in the future.
When he hears the answer he scoffs, "Ronald Reagan? The actor? Then who's vice president—Jerry Lewis?"
President Reagan reportedly liked Back to the Future. But the thought of four years (or more) with Trump as our president sends chills down my spine.