The dimensions of Reality TV

March 24, 2009 at 1:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Before I started browsing the internet for information about reality TV I knew that there is a lot. But I must admit that I have not expected this enormity of shows! Especially in our little and somehow limited European world it is easy to loose sight of the whole extend. 

Currently there are at least two television channels devoted exclusively to reality television: in the United States it is Fox Reality which was launched in 2005 and in the UK the channel Zone Reality launched in 2002. Of course there must be a big variety of diverse reality shows to fill a whole channel. And it is true that the genre reality TV can be divided into many different sub genres.

I think the most common shows which are connected to reality TV straight away are the shows which have some kind of documentary style. This means that the viewers and the camera are passive observe followers. This style of filming is often referred to as “Fly on the wall”. This can vary in every possible direction. Like for example the placement of cast members into a special living environment. Best known examples are the shows Big Brother, The Real World or Temptation Island. Another version of  fly-on-the-wall-style” shows involves celebrities which mostly capture their everyday life. Well known examples include The Osbournes, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, and Hogan Knows Best. The channel VH1 has even created an entire block of shows dedicated to celebrity reality, known as “Celebreality”.

Another documentary style is to portray the life of professionals and their jobs. The earliest example and also the longest running reality show is COPS which was broadcasted the first time in 1989 and presents the daily life of policemen. Today there are countless shows like the tattoo shows Miami Ink, London Ink or American Choppers.
It is almost impossible to even mention all the different variations of reality TV. I think people do often not even realize that they are watching reality Television as renovation shows, cooking shows, job searching shows or dating shows all are part of the reality TV genre.  

Because the phenomenon Reality TV is such an integral part of television and its culture it now starts to get a solid position within the media landscape. In April 2008, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced it will give its very first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality Show or Reality Competition.  
So finally – I am officially legitimated to watch Reality TV!


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