The term "reality show" is oxymoronic. Reality shows are just that, shows, fiction, staged fake events with fake characters and fake consequences. People watch them for the same reason they watch other shows, for the plot and conflict and resolutions. There are so many accounts of producers triggering the events and emotions to meet their needs. They are actually less real than other television shows that aim to capture reality with the classical constraints of the television medium. Reality Shows are so far removed from reality that it's almost impossible to imagine a viewership that isn't watching with the inside knowledge that what they are watching bares no resemblance to our actual world.
Even the shows that aren't completely farcical like Top Chef are entirely removed from reality. Where in the real world would circumstances like the ones on Top Chef exist? It's all a puppet show with top executives pulling the strings. And it's not only the contestants and participants who are being manipulated, it's the viewers. And that's their choice. If they take enjoyment out of watching Jon and Kate's life, which would most likely look entirely different if not filmed, then that's their choice as able-minded adults. We certainly might not see any redeeming qualities to these shows, but as long as they aren't harming their viewership it shouldn't bother us in the least.
But there are some that do. VH1's collection of reality shows are not even border-line racist. They exploit gender and racial stereotypes very blatantly to win viewers who want only to see outrageous interactions. In particular, their portrayal of black women is consistently horrendous and deserving of forceful shut down on the part of the network. In one show Flavor of Love, where women must compete for the love of rapper Flava Flav, in the show's first episode they are even stripped of their names and appointed new ones by the Public Enemy MC himself.
How we let shows like this to continue at all let alone under the guise of reality is beyond me...