Week Eleven and Twelve: Reality TV

Question:

  1. In what ways has the genre of  reality television been lost through the hybridization and diversification of programmes?

Answer:

To Defining Reality Television (RTV) as unscripted programmes that involve ordinary people, rather than actor is something contestable in today’s society. Today, Reality Television seem to have a blend of competition, makeovers of people, their homes and their gardens, dramatic scenes, and/or factual narratives all in one show. Ultimately, this genre tends to over fantasized the the notion of ” reality” in diverse forms of entertainment. There are two major ways that this genre has been lost through the hybridization and diversification of programmes. Firstly, by keeping the hungriest of viewers satisfied by presenting what is on demand being . Secondly, through production techniques of reality TV shows

The reason why reality TV has been lost could be because the audience dictates a reasonable amount of what RTV creators can successfully produce. Regardless of how good or bad a reality TV show is, ultimately, it is the audience which decides if the show is entertaining enough to keep airing on TV. Reality TV shows constantly reinvent themselves and are a mixture of different genres; one of the reasons they do this is to stay captivated to their viewers and audiences (Blitvich & Garcès, 2013). Hence, RTV shows tend to put ordinary people in unrealistic, dramatic, challenging situations – such as Survivor where the contestants are taken to an isolated island and are expected to survive without modern comforts as well as compete in sports activities. Interestingly, the RTV Survivor, itself is a combination of tabloid, competition, sports TV, tabloid, and challenges around the themes of confessional and dramatic drama. As a result, all these elements and genres are put into one reality show and thus there are various factors in the show which attract audiences and keeps them magnetized.

Secondly, the reason why Reality TV has been lost tends to be the method of production and camera techniques. RTV has roots in other more established genres such as soap opera-type media and documentary techniques. Hence from multiple genres the adaptation of today’s reality TV seem to be constructed. For that purposes, Hill (2005) states, “the development of reality TV is a great example of how television, to survive, draws upon existing genres to create a hybrid programme which eventually becomes distinct enough to be considered a genre of its own” (pg 23-24). For example, in relation to documentary-type media, modern-day reality TV uses a mixture of techniques from the USA media platforms, the French and the British television platforms. For instance, in the USA, Direct Cinema were more observational, with no analysis of what was occurring as well as more intimate. While the French Cinema Verite was more concerned with creating a relationship with the subject matter, so viewers would often see an interviewer or a camera person appearing in the shot and interacting with the subject. Similarly, in the British Cinema platform, there was an extensive focus onto mundane citizens day to day living. As a result, the influences of international early cinema and TV documentary techniques and elements are simultaneously adopted throughout the RTV spectrum. For example, the reality TV show, Cathy Come Home (which is considered as a docu-drama) correlates with early cinema and TV documentary elements and techniques. In fact, Cathy Come Home has paid actors in but it is still mimicked as a reality show due to the attention it seeks by focusing on mundane aspect of human life which is family and homelessness. Close-ups of the characters allowing the audience to feel a connection to the subjects. Finally, Lamb (2016) mentions that, “reality television has overtaken the docudrama as the most popular form of television programming combining documentary and drama” (pg 6).

To conclude, the mixture of other genres as well as the audience, play a role as to how the reality TV genre has been lost. Without a doubt, reality TV has been greatly influenced by those techniques highlighted in this blog, thus, Reality TV has become lost through this diversification and hybridization of other mixed genres.

References:

Blitvich, Garcès., P. (2013). Real Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action. Macmillan Limited. Retrieved from, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/aut/detail.action?docID=1588781.

Brenton, S., & Cohen, R. (2003). Shooting People: Adventures in Reality TV. New York: Verso.

Hill, A. (2005). Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television. London: Routledge.

Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse Studies, (2), 2-21.

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