In recent decades, reality television shows ranging from Keeping up with the Kardashians to Duck Dynasty have become increasingly popular. Why are these “unscripted” programs irresistible to millions of viewers? And what does the nearly universal success of reality shows say about American culture? This book covers more than 100 major and influential reality programs past and present, discussing the origins and past of reality programming, the contemporary social and economic conditions that led to the rise of reality shows, and the ways in which the most successful shows achieve popularity with both male and female demographics or appeal to specific, targeted niche audiences.
The text addresses reality TV within five, easy-to-identify content categories: competition shows, relationship/love-interest shows, real people or alternative lifestyle and culture shows, transformation shows, and international programming. By examining modern reality television, a topic of great interest for a wide variety of readers, this book also discusses cultural and social norms in the United States, including materialism, unrealistic beauty ideals, gender roles and stereotypes in society, dynamics of personal relationships, teenage lifestyles and issues, and the branding of people for financial gain and wider viewership.
- Explains why reality television plays such a large role in popular culture and why it is so representative of American society in the 21st century
- Contextualizes reality television as a postmodernist form of new media that has vastly altered the landscape of traditional television programming
- Examines the phenomenon of reality programming in the context of the history of radio and television broadcasting as it originated in the U.S. market
- Answers the common question, "Why would anyone want to watch this show?" by describing and analyzing the reason for a specific program's construction—and often, success—within the framework of audience study findings