A thing we know about reality TV is that it isn’t real, and death is as real as it gets, which makes for dissonance. The whole cat-and-mouse game — “Is it real or scripted?” — the slight anxiety of which provides maybe the main pleasure of reality TV, gets squashed by death as if by a giant’s foot, leaving you stunned and waiting for the episode in which they bring these people back. You almost can’t help registering the losses as themselves a failure of the genre, because like all entertainment genres, reality TV is largely designed to protect us from what’s real. When I learned that each of those people was dead, there was something — “shock of recognition” isn’t right. The effect was of having all the reality shows I’d ever watched pass before me, the way your own memories are said to do before your death, but now the scenes had taken on a strange and sickly cast.
—”Reality-TV Stars,” New York Times Magazine