The episode for reality tv stans everywhere!
How many times have we referred to reality tv as a guilty pleasure? Or trash tv? Or just generally felt embarrassed admitting to our reality tv vice?
Author Danielle Lindemann joins us to chat about her new book, 'True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us.' As a sociologist and reality tv fan (who teaches a course on reality tv--where do I sign up for that!?), Danielle provocatively suggests that perhaps we shouldn't brush off reality tv as our collective guilty pleasure; that instead by looking at the extremes, what is reflected back to us is a fun-house mirror indicative of ourselves.
Take race for example - Did you know the long running show COPS was cancelled in the wake of George Floyd's murder? Yes, it was then picked up again by FOX (no surprise there), but for a short time, COPS couldn't exist in a post BLM world.
What about the Bachelor franchise? It took 15 years for the show to cast a black Bachelorette, and then another 4 years to cast a black Bachelor (Rachel Lindsay and Matt James, respectively). Not to mention the show always follows a traditional heteronormative courtship (the roses! the proposals! the right reasons trope)! Meanwhile, we see members of the LGBTQ+ community on other reality shows, but they are still heavily produced to appeal to the male gaze.
And what do we make of the greatest paradox of all--that a reality tv star actually made it to the White House!? While Trump may not have landed the Presidency from his tenure on 'The Apprentice,' it certainly didn't disqualify him. And having a platform for him and his family to be in our living rooms weekly in positions of power certainly didn't hurt.
If we peel back the layers of reality tv and see exaggerated versions of our own culture, can we so easily dismiss it as nothing more than a frothy delight? We chat with Danielle and find out.
Obsessions include our latest scam TV pleasure, WeCrashed.
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Helpful references and links / pop culture homework:
True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us (Danielle Lindemann)
The Bachelor's Ongoing Problem with Hair Texture Diversity (Allure, Amanda Mitchell)