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November 21, 2010 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Why Reality TV works.
posted by Artw (86 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought it was just because it's so cheap that the networks are gonna force it down everyones' throats no matter what.
posted by nevercalm at 1:44 PM on November 21, 2010 [21 favorites]


WHEN BIG BROTHER ended in August this year after 11 series...

That's the U.K. version. The U.S. version continues next summer.
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on November 21, 2010


Basically for the same reason World Weekly News/E Entertainment/POEG(plain old everyday gossip) works and has always worked? No?
posted by sammyo at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think the article gets it right. People are very skeptical about art's ability to communicate authentic truth, so they prefer not-art.
posted by prefpara at 1:47 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cause you don;t need to use Union labor?
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on November 21, 2010 [14 favorites]


Going neatly alongside this article, here's why reality TV works for me. Rather, how it did work for me. I've always been a rather awkward sort and completely incapable of small talk. I could never understand how to do it or why people always seemed uncomfortable around me. Also, being the sort of person who is overly focused on facts can make me a bit overbearing and rude in situations where facts come up. Unfortunately, that is nearly all situations.

So, I decided to figure out how to make friends. I watched roughly 60 hours of reality television over the space of a few months and really analyzed it all. (As an aside, the relatively unstructured shows like Big Brother and Paradise Hotel 2 were much more helpful than shows like the X Factor where there's a driving purpose and well defined goal in mind.) Who are the people everyone likes right off the bat? What do they do to encourage that? Who are the people that start off well liked and then everyone ends up hating them with the fire of a thousand burning suns? Who do people really hate and does that change? Are some people "natural" leaders?

Over the course of a few shows, I started noticing that the people who annoy the ever living piss out of people did a lot of things I was prone to. They got bogged down in the details of a situation. They abruptly changed the flow of a conversation. They talked over people when they thought they knew better. (Sometimes they even did know better, but in a lot of situations that turns out to not be very important.) Generally, they acted rather a lot like boors. Since I'd never been really horrid socially I had somehow missed what a terrible drag I was being.

The short of it is that I learned how to be a more interesting and likable person from watching trash television. I don't talk about it very much since reality TV has such a bad rap, but I sincerely think it was the best thing this geek has ever done to improve social skills. I became a better listener, team player, leader and cocktail conversationalist. It has remarkably little to do with knowing all the facts and a whole lot to do with laughing, asking questions and being a damn good sport about everything.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:55 PM on November 21, 2010 [250 favorites]


...here's why reality TV works for me. Rather, how it did work for me.

Talk about trash to treasure!
posted by clarknova at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is terribly earth-shaking. American Idol, The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, Big Brother, Survivor, etc ... these are game shows. There's going to be a winner and many losers. Game shows have been around since Day 1 of the television age.

What would be really interesting is studies as why other types of reality shows are popular. Jersey Shore? Bridezillas? These aren't communities anyone wants to join.

But then that study would just show that people like trainwrecks, if only to be assured that they are not the ones in the wreck.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:08 PM on November 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Frank Rich's NYTimes column today makes a point of the ratings success of Sarah Palin's reality show compared to Madmen. He thinks she is closely following the strategy Bush used in 2000. Liberal elites calling her stupid energizes her base!
posted by bukvich at 2:14 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Basically for the same reason World Weekly News/E Entertainment/POEG(plain old everyday gossip) works and has always worked? No?

The Weekly World News was NOT the Enquirer. Although A through D list celebs are mentioned in the WWN, it's focus has always been on articles such as How to Sell Your Sould to the Devil and Bigfoot Spotted in Gay Bar. I've always viewed it as a tabloid style Onion with a certain segment of its readers not realizing it's a work of fiction.

Truly, if the WWN was a reality show, I'd finally want to watch reality TV.
posted by Muddler at 2:15 PM on November 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sell your Soul that is... Ehh, I should have just stuck with Bat Boy.
posted by Muddler at 2:19 PM on November 21, 2010


Watching reality TV rots your brain. Just stop. There is no clever, ironic way of appreciating it that is clever or ironic enough to actually justify the time pissed away.
posted by Construction Concern at 2:28 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand what the label "Reality TV" even means. Talent contests, game shows and competitive dancing have always been popular staples of British TV. Big Brother in its original Dutch format was a new (to me), experimental type of thing—part documentary, part social experiment—and calling it "Reality TV" made a sort of sense, but I don't know how all these programmes in more traditional formats have come to be regarded as the same thing. I suppose it's just another case of taking a buzzword and applying it to whatever it is you're trying to sell; if it doesn't fit at first it'll eventually change meaning so that it does.
posted by nowonmai at 2:31 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]



Watching reality TV rots your brain. Just stop. There is no clever, ironic way of appreciating it that is clever or ironic enough to actually justify the time pissed away.

So how do I justify the time I spend here on the Blue?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:32 PM on November 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Here's my theory on reality TV:

Everyone loves celebrity gossip. It's a given. But, traditionally, celebrities didn't have to play into the gossip-magazine/tabloid game. Presumably, they had careers and were at least nominally talented at singing/acting/whatever. Therefore, the gossip industry and the celebrities they covered were at odds -- the magazines wanted pics and scoops, the celebs wanted privacy.

But then, with reality TV, a new class of celebrities emerged. These neo-celebs didn't get famous by being even remotely talented. They have nothing to fall back on. The Jersey Shore cast can't say "fuck it, no more publicity events, we're just going to shut up and do our show". Without the tabloids, Jersey Shore doesn't exist. This new class of celebrity is entirely reliant on the gossip industry for their livelihood. Instead of there being a tension between celebs and gossip mags, the relationship is now entirely symbiotic. Hell, I'd even say reality stars need the gossip industry more than vice versa. I'm not saying this isn't the case to a degree with conventional "talented" celebrities, but with neo-celebs it is overwhelmingly so.

So what we've created is an entire culture of self-propagating celebrity. Given the flimsiest of reasons (You have lots of kids! Your dad was famous a decade ago! You're a random teenager in California!) + a reasonable level of attractiveness (can you be airbrushed enough to look good on a mag cover? you're in!), and BAM! You're in the system, and there's no getting out. Because to reject the gossip-industrial complex would be to reject your livelihood. There's nothing to fall back on.

And so, it will never end. It's cheap, easy, and benefits everyone involved.
posted by auto-correct at 2:33 PM on November 21, 2010 [21 favorites]


Hey, it's Thanksgiving again. Time to celebrate another year with no TV in the house. Woo hoo!
posted by telstar at 2:38 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


He thinks she is closely following the strategy Bush used in 2000. Liberal elites calling her stupid energizes her base!

Barbara Bush on Sarah Palin:
"I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she's very happy in Alaska and I hope she'll stay there."
posted by ericb at 2:42 PM on November 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


CPB is totally on-target. "Reality TV" is not a single category at all. Even the "game shows" can be divided into the 'Extreme Games' (Survivor, Amazing Race) and 'Talent/Skill Competitions' (Idol, Project Runway) with Big Brother being a hybrid of Game and 'Fly on the Wall Documentary', which itself is divided into Celebrity (Osbournes, Paris Hilton, Sarah Palin) and Unknowns (Jersey Shore, Real World), and then there are the 'Makeover/Help' shows (which go back to This Old House) and Biggest Loser as a hybrid of Extreme Game/Makeover. Each type has its own appeal that varies - it just seems like ALL the variations are doing well and not dying out while there are other TV Genres that are mostly dead (Westerns, Variety Shows, Supernatural Comedies) and some like Doctor and Lawyer shows that ain't what they used to be. But with Glee bringing back the Musical and Mad Men bringing back the Period Show, there is potential for Fictional TV to grow. But then, with more and more channels buying programming and smaller audiences forcing smaller budgets, most kinds of 'Reality' have an economic and often logistical advantage.

But Weekly World News never claimed to be Reality-Based AND hasn't been working so well lately (you know they ceased publication a few years ago, and web and comic book versions haven't caught the world on fire).
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:43 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


How to Sell Your Sould to the Devil

The part of me that skims comments read that as How to sell your squid to the Devil. I was pleased, and intrigued, then disappointed.

I'll never get shot of this squid.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:48 PM on November 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


I've learned everything I needed to know about reality TV from weekly clips on "The Soup." Beyond that, I don't want to engage with it.
posted by blucevalo at 2:49 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


It must be noted that Barbara Bush is what Palin would call "Elite" these days. But Sarah's one of the few pop culture personalities who has as many energized haters as lovers. And while she and her 'dancing' daughter have been getting boffo TV ratings, her #1 endorsement in her home state lost to a write-in campaign with an unspellable name. Pop culture success does not necessarily translate into political success, and as I've said before, Sarah is really not going to want the pay cut she'd get if elected President. An unsuccessful campaign will be much more profitable.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:50 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


auto-correct, your assessment is logical, cogent, and depressing to such a degree that I had thought unfathomable.

Until just now.

Welcome to the Blue.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 2:50 PM on November 21, 2010


Reality TV works because some genius producer figured out that the only thing more compelling than a GOOD performance is a BAD performance.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:52 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Talent contests, game shows and competitive dancing have always been popular staples of British TV....I don't know how all these programmes in more traditional formats have come to be regarded as the same thing.

I've been wondering the same thing. I think there's a (sometimes big, sometimes subtle) difference between a souped up game show and a show where the main entertainment factor comes from watching people scheming and being nasty to each other (the ever-popular "I'm not here to make friends" reels come to mind). Shows like Big Brother and Survivor have always seemed to fall into the latter category, at least for me; all the ones where you're supposed to form "alliances" and vote people out of the house/off the island or sabotage their chances, that kind of thing. None of these shows are remotely similar to competitions like American Idol or the Amazing Race, and I don't know why it's all lumped into the same category.
posted by Gator at 2:54 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reality TV has mostly succeeded in pushing me away from network television viewing for the last ten years. I used to watch a lot of TV but there's almost nothing on the major networks that I want to watch. I don't object to mindless entertainment, I just find most of these shows deadly boring.
posted by octothorpe at 3:09 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


tl;dr. It's the Hero's Journey for dumb/lazy people.
posted by jbickers at 3:15 PM on November 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hey, it's Thanksgiving again. Time to celebrate another year with no TV in the house. Woo hoo!

I think I know you from somewhere
posted by crayz at 3:28 PM on November 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


It's interesting that as the technology that goes into making television improves, the content is moving backward to the variety shows of fifty years ago. The spectacularly low-rated Caprica, for instance, featured effects that would have been impossible on a television budget even two decades ago; no one cared. Jersey Shore, on the other hand, you could literally film on your cell phone with almost no degradation in (video) quality, and the show is HUGE. What we want to watch seems to have no relationship to what it costs to make that thing, which is incredibly inspiring for independent filmmakers...unless they look at people really are watching.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:39 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


But with Glee bringing back the Musical and Mad Men bringing back the Period Show, there is potential for Fictional TV to grow.

Common threads between Glee and Mad Men?

They are both very strongly driven by veteran auteurs and are shot with low budgets for risk-taking networks. Matt Weiner had huge success with The Sopranos and the three Glee creators were successful with Nip/Tuck. Neither Mad Men nor Glee require effects, action set pieces or name-brand stars. Fox and AMC have a kind of "less to lose" structure that fosters risk-taking. Mad Men benefits further from not having an advertising base that requires a traditional 22-episode structure. Fox fuels Glee by ... ta-da ... a music-oriented reality show as network anchor.

ABC, NBC and CBS will have the occasional hit, but their lineups will seek to reduce risk. Reality shows are super-low cost and are therefore less risky.

Fictional TV will grow. You just won't see it on the Big Three networks.

Prediction: "V" and "The Event" are clearly LOST copycats. Neither will really gain traction. And that will be it. You won't see a show like LOST on these networks ever again.

Meanwhile, you'll see more risk-taking on small cable stations. AMC is the present. Bravo, TBS and a reinvigorated F/X are the future.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:42 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I were running a network, I'd find veteran producers and say, "I will give you a low budget, but you will be 100 percent free to do whatever the hell you want."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:47 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember being obsessed with Survivor when it first came out, and even Big Brother to an extent until I realized how boring the contestants were at the end. Then I started hating reality TV altogether. However the thing that changed my mind was Lost. I was thrilled by Lost and couldn't wait to find out what was going on. Then during season 2 of Lost I heard they got renewed again and I thought, "Damn it, this is never going to end." And I immediately stopped watching. Why? Because Lost was 100% fake and I decided it did not really matter what was going on. I can find exciting theories about life in 5 minutes on the internet without investing six seasons of my life in a show that could be summed up in 2 minutes. That's when I started to realize that AT LEAST reality TV is a fraction of reality. No matter how fake you think reality TV might be at times, even if it's 1% real, that's 1% more real than any scripted series. The events are happening to real people and have real life consequences -- whether it be simply an introduction to fame, or a truly life changing event. The glowing power source in the cave = not real at all.
posted by thorny at 5:01 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


...Thank you for pointing that out.
posted by Gator at 5:03 PM on November 21, 2010


Watching reality TV rots your brain. Just stop.

I don't agree.

Anyone who pays attention to my posts on MeFi knows that I'm a hardass when it comes to drama or storytelling. I love good writing and cannot stand thoughtless plotting. But I love good reality television. I have not seen a ton of shows and don't care for talent shows, but a good season of Survivor or Amazing Race is on par with a good season of most network tv. I won't go so far to compare it to Deadwood, John From Cincinnati, or Mad Men, but when Survivor is good (say, the Samoa season), it's easily more entertaining than most non-pay hit dramas/comedies. I'll take one good season of Survivor or AR over the entire run of shows like Friends, House, Buffy, Firefly, Two and a Half Men, Everyone Loves Raymond, and countless others that, though perhaps not what most MeFites like, are hits that have lengthy runs that I cannot comprehend. To many that might not be saying much--but to cast dispersions over an entire genre because most of it sucks... well, you could say the same thing about everything, including non-reality-tv.

These neo-celebs didn't get famous by being even remotely talented.

Again, I don't agree. I think of the shows like Amazing Race and Survivor as sports. Admittedly, the truly exceptional players are few and far between and most people are getting by on their wits, but there are players who use strategy to remarkable degrees on these shows: as a competitor on Survivor, the incredible Russel Hantz is as conniving as he is cocky and despicable; Yau-Man Chan is as crafty as he is charming. A good player on one of these shows is, to me, as talented at what they're doing as the average ball player; people will scoff at that but I honestly think it's true: the ability to manipulate 10 - 20 different personalities into doing what you want them to do is just as remarkable a skill as throwing a ball 100mph.

None of these shows [Survivor included] are remotely similar to competitions like American Idol or the Amazing Race

I assume you're correct about American Idol (I've never seen it) but Survivor is very much like Amazing Race--except it still has high points whereas AR has been going downhill for some time. But they both feature players trying to one-up their competitors. They both feature things like "eating contests" and displays of wit or problem solving.

One of the things I enjoy most about these types of shows is watching how players working within the rules manage to out think not only their competition but the producers of the show. That is, players thinking of ingenious loopholes which put them ahead of everyone else. If you watch one of these shows from the first season on, you can really start to see how they evolve from both a production standpoint and a player standpoint.

For instance, Amazing Race, for those who haven't seen it, is a show where people race "around the world", performing tasks which are (supposed to be) region-specific. So, if they're in China, they may have to do work that a traditional Chinese worker might do, using the same tools that worker has access to but with the disadvantage of not speaking the language and never having performed the task before. At the end of each episode (for the most part), the last team to cross the finish line is eliminated and on the final leg of the race, the winning team of two wins the million dollars. All this, you probably think it goes without saying, while being followed by camera crews.

If you watch the first season, you'll see very different play from later seasons, even though the game is pretty much the same. At its most basic, what this means is that people on the first season seem unaware that their actions will be broadcast even though they're aware of cameras following them. So, you'll have a team lie about what there's documented proof of. For instance, saying "We never said/did such and such" when they quite clearly did.

People watch the show and learn from others, sure, but what's remarkable to me is what allows Team A to come up with something that both their competitors and the show's producers (probably) never thought of: the game changing moments.

For example (SPOILERS FOR PAST SEASONS OF AMAZING RACE and SURVIVOR) ...

Some of the tasks people have to perform on AR they are simply incapable of completing. If they can't, a time-penalty is applied to them. A detriment for sure--when missing a plane by 5 minutes can cost you the million bucks, a 4 hour penalty can be a game ender. So, everyone always tried to complete every task... until someone realized that the penalty--even at four hours--took less time to pass than it would to complete the task. It took something like 5 years of play for a player to think of this. Why? Further, when the player realized this, he didn't just opt-out. He quit in such a fashion that his competitors thought he was fucking up so badly, that they committed to the task so deeply that when they realized they'd been duped, it was too late to back out because the time spent + the penalty was simply too much time.

If that seems too convoluted, here's what happened:

- one member of each team had to complete the task.
- the member examined the task by sticking his toe in, so to speak, and realized "I can't fuckin' do this".
- around him, half the other teams were indulging--the other half hadn't arrived
- he continued to participate, feigning great difficulty both physically and vocally. Having proven himself as a great player previously, this made the other teams worried which affected their own performance.
- he takes his partner aside and says sotto voce, "I'm going to give up. I don't want you to be sympathetic. I want you to be furious. Trust me."
- he quits, loudly. The other teams are shocked.
- his partner freaks, as instructed. Other competitors realize what's in store if they can't finish the task.
- the four hour time penalty is set.
- four hours pass... the other teams are barely half-finished; the quitters are now in the lead.

Now, of course, the producers have to make sure that any challenge they come up with can't be beaten in this way. But why did it take 5 or 6 years (seasons) for a competitor to come up with this? With hindsight it seems obvious--but even watching the show and therefore not loaded with the responsibility of play, I never thought of it.

The same thing happened on Survivor. On that show, people get voted out by their competitors at the end of each episode. However, if you have an immunity idol, you're safe. You can get an idol in one of three ways: win one, be given one, or find one using a series of clues doled out over the course of days/weeks. That's how it went for almost 20 seasons... until one player thought, "Fuck it. I don't clues. I'm just gonna start looking." He found the idol. His competitors knew he found the idol, but when he used the idol to save himself, therefore putting it back into play, they did not learn their lesson--they didn't look for the new idol. While they waited for clues, he found it again. The player has been on Survivor twice (back to back seasons) and has found six idols without clues. No one else has even found one. As a result, the way in which clues are given and idols are hidden have been changed by the producers due to "the Russell Factor".

I truly find it fascinating to watch the games and gameplay evolve as players learn from past seasons--probably because I've watched the same seasons and haven't thought of some of them or am eager to see players use tricks I have thought of that haven't been used yet.

As a writer, it's useful to me to watch games with a large social aspect (Survivor is more social/psychological than physical, to me). It informs my characters. The summer I discovered I enjoyed Survivor and Amazing Race (years after they'd started airing), I watched all past seasons back to back and then I sat down and tried to invent my own show. It was very fun to do this and was just as challenging as plotting out a screenplay or story. I think my show's rather ingenious; it's completely social/psychological and has lots of depth but it still has the seedy side of reality tv that so many people seem to enjoy. I ever meet a reality tv show producer, I'll pitch it. I recommend highly that people come up with their own reality show. It's a terrific creative exercise.
posted by dobbs at 5:09 PM on November 21, 2010 [43 favorites]


Reality TV is anything but.
posted by bwg at 5:12 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If we enjoy reality tv because we can have some kind of influence on the characters' futures, why don't more people vote?
posted by MHPlost at 5:38 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone loves celebrity gossip. It's a given.

I don't.
posted by idiomatika at 5:44 PM on November 21, 2010


"Reality TV" is not a single category at all.

I work on the production side, ie the fun folks who light, build sets, etcetc. As far as we are all concerned, yes it is. There are either shows which require production, and shows which don't. Reality TV doesn't, and all the amazing dramas that everyone around here loves do, as do game shows, talks shows, cooking shows, whatever. Reality TV is killing all of us, and it sucks. Unfortunately, whatever's cheap is going to win as far as the networks are concerned, forever.
posted by nevercalm at 5:52 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reality TV is not successful because it creates a sense of community. Reality TV is successful because it provides an outlet for judgment borne of ignorance. We love watching American Idol so we can pass judgment on the talent of the people on-stage. The same goes for survivor, amazing race, the biggest loser, hoarders, etc. If it is on television, shot on video, and doesn't involve actors reading from a script, the show survives based on the audience's judgment of what they see. It has nothing to do with reality. It has to do with fooling the audience into thinking that there are people lower on the totem pole than they are.

In reality, reality TV serves three key functions: first, it is cheap to produce for all the reasons people have said. Secondly, and more importantly, it is immediate. You don't dare DVR Survivor if all of your friends are going to be talking about it tomorrow. This immediacy, codenamed "event" television, allows them so sell advertisements on the show because the advertisers know that more people will be watching the show live than would be the case for ordinary TV shows.

The third key function is the one described in the article: it conveys a sense of community. What the article does not say is that the community is a false one, an illusory one. You think you are part of a community, but in reality you are one of millions of isolated people who've opened your homes for liars and hustlers to enter. To wit:

A good player on one of these shows is, to me, as talented at what they're doing as the average ball player; people will scoff at that but I honestly think it's true: the ability to manipulate 10 - 20 different personalities into doing what you want them to do is just as remarkable a skill as throwing a ball 100mph.

This is utterly absurd. To throw a ball 100 mph requires literally hundreds of thousands of man-hours of the time of the pitcher himself as well as the coaches, the trainers, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc. all working at the the peak of their field. People have been manipulating each other since humans formed groups. People have been throwing balls 100mph for only a few decades. It is a significant human achievement, representing the dominance of the human body by science. It may not be an important achievement, but it is notable, up there with the 4 minute mile and the like.

Furthermore, the notion that "manipulat[ing] 10 - 20 different personalities into doing what you want them to do" is laudable or that should be encouraged is heinous. We call these people con men. We are supposed to avoid them, not relish their success.

And anyway, manipulating 10-20 people is nothing. The producers of these shows manipulated millions of viewers into handing over their valuable and increasingly scarce leisure time to them in exchange for receiving advertisements from the producers. That's quite a bargain those producers got you to strike!
posted by Pastabagel at 6:14 PM on November 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


Really, X-Factor is a talent show. It's a really, really old format- it's been around since vaudeville, for God's sake. There's no risk to it. It's just successfully grafted itself onto the 'reality' gravy train and is riding it for as long as it can. Like thesome all singing all dancing hobos of yore.
posted by Jilder at 6:51 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even if there is 20 or so people on the show like Survivor you don't have to manipulate all of them. You really only have to manipulate a few people at a time. You don't even have to manipulate so much as "befriend". The last season of the US Big Brother came down to four competitive guys forming a really tight friendship and keeping it a secret.

Frome the article:
A 1999 academic study by the University of Oslo claimed that reality television arose out of "the powerful urge for a sense of contact with the real" in an age defined by the chimeric interactions of the internet. The irony, of course, is that reality television is in itself a construct: a facsimile of real life designed by television executives to ensure that viewers keep coming back for more.


I don't know about that nonsense, but I've never seen a Reality Show even try to mimic real life.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:57 PM on November 21, 2010


My favorite reality TV is sports.
posted by keratacon at 7:16 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


It has to do with fooling the audience into thinking that there are people lower on the totem pole than they are.

It can. But so can fictional dramas/comedies. Dumb and Dumber was a pretty big hit if I remember correctly. But it doesn't have to be.

The end of Season 7 of Amazing Race (SPOILERS) has Uchenna and Joyce about 300 yards from the finish line and the million dollar prize. They took a cab to where they're standing but they don't have enough to cover the fare. The team in second is in their own cab a few minutes away from the finish line. I distinctly remember watching the show and thinking "Run! You're a minute away from winning!" But they didn't because, as Uchenna is heard saying, "We can't run--we have to make sure this man [the driver] is covered." That's not a man with an attitude that's lower on the totem pole than mine.

In the second half (I think) of Season 3 of the Amazing Race (SPOILERS) one of the players has a complete mental collapse during a difficult task. She literally sits down on the ground and refuses to move. Her partner in the game, who has been humiliated by the woman's actions previously in the race, is now faced with a dilemma as the task has to be completed together. Again, I remember being filled with disbelief and anger for the man, at the woman, and thinking that were it me, I'd walk away and never speak to this person again. However, he manages to remain unbelievably calm and motivating and talks her through the task and the rest of the race to the million dollar prize. I was stunned at what he was able to accomplish.

In Survivor: Fiji (SPOILERS), Yau-Man Chan strikes a deal with Dreamz, a competitor: I will give you the truck I just won if you promise to give me immunity if you win it in a future challenge. When the moment comes and Yau-Man needs immunity or he will be voted out--and Dreamz has that immunity--Dreamz renegs. Heartbreaking. Later, in the final episode, Yau-Man is given an opportunity (from his position on the Jury) to confront Dreamz. Instead of condemning the man, he says something like, and with the utmost sincerity, "It was my decision to strike the deal. I honestly hope you enjoy it. Please, drive it without guilt." Again, I'm not sitting in front of my computer watching the show because it's parading society's lowest for laughs.

Furthermore, the notion that "manipulat[ing] 10 - 20 different personalities into doing what you want them to do" is laudable or that should be encouraged is heinous. We call these people con men. We are supposed to avoid them, not relish their success.

It's a game. Manipulating the other players is the entire point. The other players know it's the point--which makes the task more difficult to accomplish. You don't think other players in other games are trying to manipulate their competitors into doing things that are against their best interests? Are you also against bluffing in poker, stealing in baseball, picks in basketball, the hammer in ultimate, pacing in a foot race? Are you claiming that outrunning another player with a ball under your arm is a laudable achievement but outwitting someone in a psychological game (with the tagline "Outwit Outlast Outplay") is worthy of contempt?

The producers of these shows manipulated millions of viewers into handing over their valuable and increasingly scarce leisure time to them in exchange for receiving advertisements from the producers. That's quite a bargain those producers got you to strike!

You don't have to watch commercials to watch tv shows. With the exception of deliberately clicking on a link for an ad, I haven't seen a tv commercial in almost 25 years.
posted by dobbs at 7:17 PM on November 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


One thing that always bothers me about most survivor/AR types of reality series is that you never see the camera operator and the contestants never interact with the operators. To me the fact that you don't see the shadow of the camera or the helicopter taking the overhead shots and they do cross cutting editing with multiple cameras but one camera somehow never manages to photograph another one makes it all feel so staged. You often see shots in Survivor where the camera man has to be right next to someone in a challenge but then they'll cut to a long shot and the contestant is by himself. It just makes it so obvious that they're taking multiple takes as if they were filming a movie.
posted by octothorpe at 7:22 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


To me the fact that you don't see the shadow of the camera or the helicopter taking the overhead shots and they do cross cutting editing with multiple cameras but one camera somehow never manages to photograph another one makes it all feel so staged.

I have many times seen a shadow of an operator, or their reflection in a car. In one episode of AR someone flips a jeep--I believe the camera man is seen nursing a head wound in the aftermath. I can't find a clip so can't confirm but that's what I remember.

Also, further to my above post about the lowest on the totem pole, I could be completely incorrect but it seems to me that The Amazing Race has had more gay/lesbian contestants than any other network show in history. Sometimes they've won the race, sometimes they've lost; sometimes they've behaved decently, sometimes they haven't--but they've been presented as perfectly normal people. It may seem silly to say so but I would suspect that these contestants are among the best/first presentations of homosexuals in a positive light in the media that many of the show's audiences have ever seen.
posted by dobbs at 7:51 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


With the exception of deliberately clicking on a link for an ad, I haven't seen a tv commercial in almost 25 years.

While I don't disagree with everything else you've said, the in-program advertising during reality shows is almost non-stop. So you may not have seen a commercial, but you've seen a ton of advertising.
posted by inigo2 at 10:06 PM on November 21, 2010


Nthing pastabagel; reality TV's main purpose is to provoke schadenfreude. I think it's audiovisual santorum.
posted by brujita at 10:48 PM on November 21, 2010


It just makes it so obvious that they're taking multiple takes as if they were filming a movie.

Watch for the moments where someone, seemingly on the spur of the moment, enters a room to talk to someone. There will be a mobile camera following the person through the door, while there will already be another camera inside the room, shooting the person's entrance. How did they know to put the camera there and point it at the door at that exact time?

Or telephone calls. "I decided I needed to call so-and-so and straighten this out." There's a camera on the caller making the call and a camera on the person answering. Wait, how did they know when the call was going to happen so they could be there at the phone ready to shoot?

It's ... almost ... as if ... it's not ... real? Could that be true? Noooooo...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:22 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The X Factor has a telling and unique ability to provoke extreme emotions in its viewers, from shouting at the judges to crying at the contestants' stories and journey"

This level of emotional engagement is precisely why I can't watch reality TV. It upsets me too much. I can watch all sorts of horrible things happen to characters in fictional television, and although I might cry a bit if a favorite character dies, I get over it. But if a real person on a reality TV show is humiliated or disappointed or starts to cry, I totally lose my shit. It's so bad that I can't even be in the same room while my husband watches those competitive cooking shows.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:36 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm fine with 'trashy' TV, and can understand the appeal of most reality shows, but what I find incredibly frustrating is how most of the audience has no awareness of, or interest in, the manipulative techniques that are being used. Occasionally I'll overhear people talking about the latest manufactured/managed X Factor 'scandal' without a hint of irony or cynicism and it's unbearable. Don't they notice patterns in these things? Don't they have any curiosity about how TV programmes are made? Do they really walk around in a gullible haze? Gah.
posted by malevolent at 3:01 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm fine with 'trashy' TV, and can understand the appeal of most reality shows, but what I find incredibly frustrating is how most of the audience has no awareness of, or interest in, the manipulative techniques that are being used. Occasionally I'll overhear people talking about the latest manufactured/managed X Factor 'scandal' without a hint of irony or cynicism and it's unbearable. Don't they notice patterns in these things? Don't they have any curiosity about how TV programmes are made? Do they really walk around in a gullible haze? Gah

posted by malevolent at 3:01 AM on November 22 [+] [!]



There is this cliche` in magic circles, that there are three types of people who go to magic shows. One set, who enjoy pretending that magic is real. They understand that the magic is, in fact, tricks of mirrors and misdirection, but they suspend disbelief and greatly enjoy the show. Everyone has a great night, and everyone is happy. There is nothing wrong with this.

Another set of people see it as a puzzle, and want to work out how it works. They come up with many theories, don't bother the patrons in the first group, and everyone has a good time. Everyone is happy. There is nothing wrong with this.

Then there is the curmudgeons, who feel the need to attempt to remind people of that which they already know, and cannot at all understand why anyone would enjoy being fooled. They appear want nothing more than to ensure that the other two groups have as little fun as possible. You usually don't want these people at your show :).

My point being, TV is no different. You are describing people in the first of these groups, from the perspective of the third. What I don't understand, is why you find it offensive that people are enjoying their willing suspension of disbelief about something that doesn't actually effect their lives. It's kind of like watching a horror movie - you know it's not real, but you go to be scared because being scared is _fun_. This is the same thing - the drama is fun in of itself, and you willingly suspend disbelief in order to enjoy that.
posted by jaymzjulian at 5:09 AM on November 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I assumed it was popular because an increasingly large fraction of the population are ignorant small minded chav slobs who are entertained by watching, reading about, and laughing at other ignorant small minded chav slobs engaged in fatuous talent contests, lowbrow pratfalls & innuendo, and just general pollution of the world with their existence.
posted by snoktruix at 5:32 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have many times seen a shadow of an operator, or their reflection in a car

Not to mention that nowadays with computers, even a cheap reality show can go through and blur out cameramen.
posted by smackfu at 6:08 AM on November 22, 2010


The Weekly World News...I've always viewed it as a tabloid style Onion with a certain segment of its readers not realizing it's a work of fiction.

Most of the enjoyment people get from TWWN is imagining these mythical people who are stupider than they are that think the stories are real.
posted by straight at 7:14 AM on November 22, 2010


> But they didn't because, as Uchenna is heard saying, "We can't run--we have to make sure this man [the driver] is covered." That's not a man with an attitude that's lower on the totem pole than mine.

As noble as that sounds, AR has "hidden" rules that the viewer is (usually) never made aware of, and I'd put money on one of them being that you can't just bolt from cabs.
posted by user92371 at 7:34 AM on November 22, 2010


Talent contests, game shows and competitive dancing have always been popular staples of British TV....I don't know how all these programmes in more traditional formats have come to be regarded as the same thing.

I don't know about Britain, but in the USA they started getting lumped together when the networks started broadcasting them during prime-time viewing hours.

20 years ago, almost everything from 8:00 - 11:00 EST was scripted dramas or comedies. Game shows, talent shows, news, talk shows -- all the non-scripted stuff -- was either before or after that. (America's Funniest Home Videos was the major exception, I think.)

But that may have been an historical anomaly. It's mostly true in the 80s and 90s. If you go back to the 70s and early 80s you had variety shows and other non-scripted programs during prime time (That's Incredible!), and of course, they were even more common and popular in the decades before that.

MTV's The Real World series was popular during the 90s, but that stuff didn't really hit network TV until Big Brother and Survivor in 2000. One is much more of a game show than the other, but they were both different from all the scripted shows in a lot of the same ways.
posted by straight at 7:35 AM on November 22, 2010


It just makes it so obvious that they're taking multiple takes as if they were filming a movie.

Two of my friends have a television production company in L.A. Among their productions are 'reality TV' shows. Instead of 'writers' they employ 'story line editors.' Ahem -- the programs are scripted and participants sign iron clad non-disclosure agreements, etc.
posted by ericb at 7:57 AM on November 22, 2010


Most reality shows are basically post-hoc scripted. All the footage exists, not acted, and then a good story line is crafted which may reflect reality or may not. You're editing down days of footage into 45 minutes, you can do almost anything.
posted by smackfu at 8:15 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The participants are not necessarily fed lines (or, acting), but I have actually seen a pre-filming script outlining what they want various participants to stress, focus on, etc. It's my opinion that they manufacture tension, etc.
posted by ericb at 8:19 AM on November 22, 2010


Most of the enjoyment people get from TWWN is imagining these mythical people who are stupider than they are that think the stories are real.

Pff. Sounds like somebody never had a subscription (back when the WWN was still printing). It was like drinking from the humor firehose. I don't believe anybody who actually read the paper took it seriously. (Well, except for the Ed Anger column, which was probably responsible for the launch of Fox News.)
posted by asperity at 8:34 AM on November 22, 2010


As noble as that sounds, AR has "hidden" rules that the viewer is (usually) never made aware of, and I'd put money on one of them being that you can't just bolt from cabs.

Of course I'd considered that but:

1) The man didn't say, "We can't run because it's against the rules" or "We'll be penalized" or anything of the sort. His wording and intonation made it clear that it was a matter of fairness to the driver, not his competitors. In fact, at one point his partner does say, "Let's run." His response is the line I quoted above--the rules are never mentioned.

2) In many instances on the show, people make deals with their drivers. "Wait here, we'll be back in 30 minutes" or whatever... or in various scenarios they haggle with the people they're buying services from. This was never done in this instance.

3) It wasn't until this most recent season that someone did in fact show up at the end of the leg without paying their cab driver (intentionally). They went back and settled up. I can't say for certain but it seemed to me that the contestants weren't aware that it was a "rule". Or, if it was a stated rule in their contract, it certainly wasn't at the forefront of their minds as in 15 seasons or whatever no one once has made the claim--though it seems every other thing like that (which you assume is a rule) has come up.

4. Multiple times there's been disputes with drivers about fares--especially in a foreign country where the contestants feel they're being cheated with a long route or whatever. There have been instances where the racers have said things like, "No, I'm giving you $40. That's it! No more!" and walked off. If the driver doesn't pursue it, it seems, AR is fine with it. If the driver does, they're not. One time, a racer said to a driver something like, "If you get me there first, I'll give you double the meter." He didn't get there first (and in fact delayed them) and still wanted double the meter. The racer refused. The driver called the police. The racer was taken to the police station where it seemed clear he was going to jail and the authorities believed the cabbie's lie that getting there first wasn't part of the deal. The racer paid double the fare and was permitted to leave. Obviously, AR wouldn't have let their contestant go to jail but it seemed to come as close as possible without that happening.

Look, by no means am I suggesting that reality tv (in the case of Survivor and AR) are reality. However, I do think people are playing to win and I do think that sometimes they come up with novel/ingenious ways to get ahead. To some, that's cheating or despicable behaviour, but to others it is not. I'm just saying that, to me, it is not a matter of wanting to watch people worse off or stupider than me make asses of themselves and that in fact there have been many instances where people have behaved very nobly in circumstances that I know for certain I would not.
posted by dobbs at 8:53 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


He quit in such a fashion that his competitors thought he was fucking up so badly, that they committed to the task so deeply that when they realized they'd been duped, it was too late to back out because the time spent + the penalty was simply too much time.

HA! You're talking about the much-loathed Rob and the two-pounds-of-meat episode. That was fucking brilliant. He worked that crowd like nobody's business.
posted by Skot at 8:58 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I were running a network, I'd find veteran producers and say, "I will give you a low budget, but you will be 100 percent free to do whatever the hell you want."

That's exactly how Louis CK's new show Louie was created
posted by Riptor at 9:59 AM on November 22, 2010


Not in my house, it doesn't.
posted by Decani at 10:55 AM on November 22, 2010


I hate to break it to you, but many of the most compelling moments on these shows are in fact scripted. Some of these "reality show" participants are out-and-out actors, at least one an actor I've been in a show with, but in the last four years or so they've realized that your average person is a pretty good actor if playing a caricature of themselves.

Take dobb's post above. Now, I have no evidence of this, but I'm morally sure that many if not most of these incidents are scripted, simply because they're so neat and clear. In the real world, your average person rarely performs clear, unambiguous actions, but does things in stops and starts, simply because they are working out to do what they are doing.

If that isn't convincing to you, ask yourself what situations attract people to these shows, and then ask if the networks couldn't create a lot more of these by scripting them?

Or if that doesn't convince you, you should ask yourself what all those writers working for those shows actually do...?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:25 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I'm fine with 'trashy' TV, and can understand the appeal of most reality shows, but what I find incredibly frustrating is how most of the audience has no awareness of, or interest in, the manipulative techniques that are being used. Occasionally I'll overhear people talking about the latest manufactured/managed X Factor 'scandal' without a hint of irony or cynicism and it's unbearable. Don't they notice patterns in these things? Don't they have any curiosity about how TV programmes are made? Do they really walk around in a gullible haze? Gah."

What's more, if they're anything like the people I know, they probably also hold the entire conversation without discussing the fact that the events did not actually occur in their living room but were instead recorded and then projected onto some kind of screen in their home. I mean, do these people just have no idea how a television works? Do they not care? Are they just sitting there, clapping idiotically at the dancing picture like a completely incurious toddler?

(FWIW, I feel the same about American politics. "Don't you people care that you're being manipulated?!")
posted by Eideteker at 11:27 AM on November 22, 2010


If that isn't convincing to you, ask yourself what situations attract people to these shows, and then ask if the networks couldn't create a lot more of these by scripting them?

I honestly don't think they are scripted and acted. I guess you will just think I'm a gullible fool, and I'll just think you are overly cynical and jaded, and leave it at that.
posted by smackfu at 11:42 AM on November 22, 2010


Obviously, AR wouldn't have let their contestant go to jail but it seemed to come as close as possible without that happening.

Survivor:Outback ( Season 2 ). The food washes away in a flood. Producers give 'competitors' more food.

That's the moment I was unable to suspend disbelief any longer.
posted by mikelieman at 11:58 AM on November 22, 2010


My favorite reality TV is sports

My favorite TV game shows, too.

E Unibus Pluram (pdf)

Going neatly alongside this article, here's why reality TV works for me.

Following up on stoneweaver's most excellent comment, reality TV can be socially useful even for those people who normally have standard communication skills.

If you've ever been immensely frustrated by someone at work or someone outside of your social group who is just different, there's usually plenty of illogical and irrational characters on these shows that help demonstrate how those sorts of personalities function.

Even the worst ones seem like anthropological gold.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:22 PM on November 22, 2010


You're editing down days of footage into 45 minutes, you can do almost anything.

This is the reality show I want to watch, where different production teams get the same footage and remix it into different story lines. Call it "The Next Great Reality Production Star" or something.
posted by yarrow at 12:29 PM on November 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


My suspension of disbelief is lazy. So I always like it when I've never seen an actor before - it's easier to believe they are the 'role' they are playing and not some over paid hyper-star whose face I've seen ten to many times. Reality TV seems to have increased the throughput of people getting on screen at the expense of 'super-stars' who I recognize. That is a good thing.

With so many people wanting to be stars, why not open up the night sky and give everyone in Los Angeles a chance to have their moment. Gossip magazines could evolve to be more focused on the 'reality situation' than some select overpaid celeb. So instead of a page on Brad Pitt - there could be a page on 'break-up' or 'cheating' or 'crazy behavior' and some random person from LA who is going through a break-up etc... would be featured.

I'm talking about an opt in Massively Multi-user Reality TV matrix where there are so many people that no one bothers to get obsessed with any one person and we're free finally of the disease of fame as a finite resource. Brothers and sisters in LA - rise and make it so!

I continue to support you by avoiding 'big name' productions since I'm to lazy to do much else.
posted by astrobiophysican at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2010


Reality TV was fun in the first few seasons of it, when people had no idea what they were getting into. I laughed my head off at the total crap shows (Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire and the *slurp*), I found Survivor interesting.

Then as the shows went on for longer, everyone wised up, everyone saw how they worked, and the "reality" (i.e. TV noobs being noob-y) went away, and now it's just acting but without scripts. And the game shows have to throw in more and more "twists" to the point where you get bored and jaded of them all.

The only shows that really stuck with me were ones where people had talent, including my favorite Project Runway. And sadly, even that one has gone downhill with the change in production and going from "make a dress out of leaves" to "make a blue dress" to "the judges are on serious crack." And while I love Tim Gunn and clothing design, even I can't stand to watch any more.

What it boiled down to for me was that the longer reality TV has gone on, it's become ABC gum: no more flavor, no more fun, I've seen every stupid thing before on some other show. Bo-ring.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:40 PM on November 22, 2010


Reality Television is one of those things that I 100% cannot understand why other people like. NASCAR, televised sporting events, gray's anatomy, whatever, yeah, I can understand the appeal in an abstract way, even if it doesn't appeal to me. Jersey shore? No fucking clue, whatsoever. I feel like I'm a different species when that show comes on.
posted by tehloki at 4:54 PM on November 22, 2010


Really? How is it so different in your mind that you can't understand people liking it?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:20 PM on November 22, 2010


Pastabagel, judgment borne of ignorance is quite apt. I'd say it goes double for cable news. Probably could replace E pluribus unum on the Seal - now that would be reality.
posted by any major dude at 9:37 PM on November 22, 2010


Reality television: oxymoron.
posted by tspae at 10:14 PM on November 22, 2010


How is it so different in your mind that you can't understand people liking it?

I haven't seen much MTV lately, but for me, it's usually the mind-numbing stupidity and superficiality, and unabashed materialism.

It's like "Cops." You know people watch it (I have a friend who does), but why on earth? My coworker is a big Jersey Shore fan. I dunno. I can certainly understand people liking it, but I am also hard pressed to grok the appeal.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:12 AM on November 23, 2010


with Glee bringing back the Musical

I know it's not nearly as cool, but High School Musical brought back the musical (and later, Camp Rock). Glee just jumped on the bandwagon.
posted by msalt at 9:33 AM on November 23, 2010


If you go back to the 70s and early 80s you had variety shows and other non-scripted programs during prime time (That's Incredible!)

The Gong Show! And TV game shows were always about showing "real people" and especially focused on their amateurish excitement, awkard talk, etc. Not to mention Art Linklater.
posted by msalt at 9:36 AM on November 23, 2010


It's easy to care about someone real. In fiction, the writing has to be of a pretty high standard to make us believe or care about a character and then it's the character we've pretty transparently been told to care about. In reality TV, you can sit down half way through a series or even half way through a show and almost immediately decide who you like and who you hate. I like the hot girl with the black hair. I hate that tall guy. Oh my god, did you hear what she just said? What a slut! That guy's totally gay.

And they're volunteers, so it's like a magazine shock and gossip column without the paparazzi guilt.

America's Most Smartest Model was my poison...
posted by doublehappy at 11:53 AM on November 23, 2010


I'll take one good season of Survivor or AR over the entire run of shows like Friends, House, Buffy, Firefly, Two and a Half Men, Everyone Loves Raymond, and countless others that, though perhaps not what most MeFites like, are hits that have lengthy runs that I cannot comprehend.
posted by dobbs


What? At least if you're going to make a list of "fiction TV I don't like" it could have some sort of point or structure. We've got one of the most popular laugh track comedies of all time with a number of big stars, an unusually character focused hospital procedural based on Sherlock Holmes with an excellent lead actor, a Joss Whedon show with a huge fanbase and critical love, a Joss Whedon show that was cancelled after 14 episodes, a laugh track comedy with big ratings but little respect, and a laugh track family comedy based on/named after a comedian. These things together in a list really have nothing in common beyond that you dislike them and they are fictional and (were) on television.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:25 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


High School Musical brought back the musical

You forgot about South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:14 PM on November 23, 2010


These things together in a list really have nothing in common beyond that you dislike them and they are fictional and (were) on television.

To you, maybe. To me, they're similar in that they all have shitty writing that's full-to-bursting with bad exposition.
posted by dobbs at 8:30 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


P.o.B. wrote: "You forgot about South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut."

Which was the thing that got me to buy a DVD player.
posted by wierdo at 9:45 PM on November 23, 2010


"Really? How is it so different in your mind that you can't understand people liking it?"

It's something to do with the fact that these shows seem to feature people with no motivations that are relatable to me doing nothing but make idiots of themselves. Maybe I lack the requisite capacity for "laughing down" at people to enjoy them. My friends who watch jersey shore and the like seem to appreciate them ironically, essentially laughing at people they think they're better than. I have a hard time not just feeling really embarassed on these people's behalf.
posted by tehloki at 11:00 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, they're similar in that they all have shitty writing that's full-to-bursting with bad exposition.

Here's the test then: what do you think of Modern Family? (major network, big budget too presumably)
posted by msalt at 1:12 PM on November 24, 2010


"Reality Bites Back," a new book on the phenomenon of unscripted television programming from feminist media critic Jennifer Pozner, distills into 386 pages an entire decade full of the cheapest, sleaziest TV shows in history. It's also the most popular genre of media the information age has yet produced. But with whom, readers might be asking themselves, is it popular?

...

Overly simplified, the concern seems to run that unscripted programming establishes a direct messaging pipeline from big-brand advertisers to viewers, who respond to televised versions of themselves with unprecedented consumer support. In other words: that we react to unscripted programming as if it were, to some degree, wholly unmediated.

...

the fact is, these shows have been hyping a skewed version of American to millions of people every single night for about ten years, one that pretends the women's rights movement and the civil rights movement never happened.


"Taking on Reality TV With Jennifer Pozner" - Truthout
posted by mrgrimm at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2010


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