Survivor.The Bachelor.Extreme Makeover.Big Brother.Joe Millionaire.American Idol.The Osbournes. It is virtually impossible to turn on a television without coming across some sort of reality programming. Yet, while this genre has rapidly moved from the fringes of television culture to its lucrative core, critical attention has not kept pace.
Beginning by unearthing its historical roots in early reality shows likeCandid Cameraand wending its way throughAn American Family,Cops, andThe Real Worldto the most recent crop of reality programs,Reality TVis the first book to address the economic, visual, cultural, and audience dimensions of reality television. The essays provide a complex and comprehensive picture of how and why this genre emerged, what it means, how it differs from earlier television programming, and how it engages societies, industries, and individuals. Topics range from the construction of televisual "reality" to the changing face of criminal violence on TV, to issues of surveillance, taste, and social control.
By spanning reality television's origins in the late 1940s to its current overwhelming popularity,Reality TVdemonstrates both the tenacity of the format and its enduring ability to speak to our changing political and social desires and anxieties.
Contributors include: Nick Couldry, Mary Beth Haralovich, John Hartley, Chuck Kleinhans, Derek Kompare, Jon Kraszewski, Kathleen LeBesco, Justin Lewis, Ted Magder, Jennifer Maher, Anna McCarthy, Rick Morris, Chad Raphael, Elayne Rapping, Jeffrey Sconce, Michael W. Trosset, Pamela Wilson.