What effects do you think that reality television has on society when programmes such as the Jeremy Kyle Show are labelled as “tabloid trash” and docu-soaps such as Benefit Street are called “poverty porn”?
Reality television programmes such as those listed, in my opinion, are quite dated. The Jeremy Kyle Show (2005) hit its height a few years ago and before now I had never heard of Benefit Street (2014). Reality television as it is popular now is more about survival shows, such as the South Korean hit Produce 101 (2016) and English programme Love Island (2015) as it has spread to an Australian version. Because of the nature of these programmes, and their younger demographic, the impact that reality television has on society, from what I have observed, is more on the online community. To explain this more easily, I am going to focus on perhaps one of the most popular reality programmes to come from the LGBTQ community; RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009).
Running from 2009 to present with several spin offs, RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of the most recognisable LGBTQ productions. Because of the younger audience that the show has garnered, many of the audience members are what are considered “netizens”, (citizens of the net). Due to this, many memes have come from the show and its stars and taken off across the internet, some of which probably aren’t often tracked back to the programme and just taken as another meme, (Ellwood, 2018).
One of the most popular spin offs from the programme is the Untucked (2010) series, which shows the backstage goings on while the judges on the programme deliberate. The contestants go backstage to “untuck” and gossip about what is going on. A prime example of a meme from this programme is from the season five episode nine when Alyssa Edwards was attacked by drag queen Jade Jolie for having “rolls all in the back”. In her confessional, Edwards responded by saying, in shock; “Back rolls?” the clip went viral after it was aired, and is used frequently today through the use of gif keyboards.
Another example of this is a phrase from the ever iconic Jasmine Masters. After giving us such gems as “Rupaul’s Drag Race have fucked up drag” (2016) and her catchphrase “I am Jasmine Masters and I have something to say”, the All Stars contestant gave us one more. In a 2015 video, Masters was ranting about people who over do it whenever the drink, and upon shifting into an uncomfortable position cut herself off, thus birthing the phrase; “And I oop” (2015). It has taken off in a big way, being used all over Twitter, TikTok and VSCO to express shock over something that has just been stated. I personally can’t go a single day without referencing it, going so far as to say “and I oop” every time I go over a pothole or speed bump while driving with my friends.
So reality television has moved on from the days when it had an actual impact on people and got them thinking, such was the case with Bowling for Columbine (2002) and others of its kind. These days it makes its mark with kids on the internet with their memes.
Cowles, R. (2015). Love Island [television series]. England: ITV Studios.
Ellwood, G. (2018). ‘Rupaul’s drag race’ tackles real-world issues; when it isn’t busy launching memes [online article]. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/la-en-st-rupaul-drag-race-20180613-story.html
Han, D. (2016). Produce 101 [television series]. South Korea: CJ E&M.
Masters, J. (2015, 28 October). Jasmine Masters handle your liquor . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g52aV8OcFcs
Masters, J. (2016, 28 January). Jasmine Masters Rupaul drag race fucked up drag . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf25Xzhpz_k
Moore, M. (producer and director). (2002). Bowling for Columbine. USA: Aliance Atlantis.
Polly, J. and Visage, M. (2009). Rupaul’s drag race [television series]. USA: World of Wonder.
RuPaul (producer). (2010). Rupaul;s drag race: untucked! [television series]. USA: Logo.
Unknown producer. (2005). The Jeremy Kyle Show [television series]. England: ITV Studios.
Unknown producer. (2014). Benefit Street [television series]. England: Love Productions.