Producing “reality television” is a matter of economics.
Such programs in general cost a fraction of the budgets required for situation comedies and dramas.
One doesn’t need a calculator to see how the savings add up quickly:
the sets are cheaper, there are fewer paid actors and writers,
camera crews are smaller and use cheaper equipment.
Programs such as Top Chef are more than simply cheap pseudo-dramas.
In their fashion,
they help to perpetuate ideas about life and human nature held by the people at the top of the heap in America.
According to their self-serving conceptions,
only the most brazen and self-centered people can achieve success;
everyone else is so insignificant that they might as well be invisible.