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“World's Worst Tenants” TV Show is far from Reality

In August 2012 Spike TV aired the first season of the 'reality' show World's Worst Tenants. In this program viewers watched as so – called 'eviction specialists' tried to remove tenants from their homes or businesses.

Clearly this program is topical because of the economic plight of many American renters who are struggling financially and therefore are being forced into debt. And in fact many people have criticized the timing of the show for exactly this reason.

The question is does a show like this make life unnecessarily difficult for renters in America, and is it really a fair portrayal of the typical renter?

Regardless of the answers it is interesting to note that each episode of the show's first season averaged around one million viewers. Spike also reports that the program has been sold internationally and that a second season is likely.

Negative image of tenants struggling to get or repay loans

As mentioned, many Americans are finding it difficult to pay rent at the moment because of the struggling economy. Many tenants are falling into debt and some are struggling to get loans or to repay them.

'Reality' shows such as World's Worst Tenants are overly dramatic in order to be entertaining but this also means that they are not particularly realistic or representative of the majority of people who rent in America.

Bill Deegan of Renter Nation points out that just as there are some bad tenants there are also bad landlords and that World's Worst Tenants reinforces an already existing negative image of people who rent.

Producers defend violence on the show

According to executive producer Chad Greulach the producers intentionally select and broadcast the situations that become the most violent. As he points out, this is what viewers want from reality television. The producers also defend the show by stating that the show is vetted by lawyers to ensure that any incidents shown on the program fall within legal bounds.

They also state that one of the ‘eviction specialists’ cites legal procedure throughout the show. But is this enough of an excuse?

TV Show sends a bad message to landlords and tenants

Bill Deegan believes that the violence depicted in World's Worst Tenants sends a bad message to both landlords and tenants; when things go bad (such as a tenant falling into debt and being behind in paying the rent) violence and intimidation is potentially part of the tenant / landlord relationship.

Steven R. Kellman, founder of the Tenants Legal Center in San Diego, expressed concern that landlords may believe that the program validates violent actions and that tenants may be intimidated out of fear. As Kellman and Deegan say, World's Worst Tenants is another reason why tenants need to be aware of their rights.


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