Reality television: ordinariness, exhibitionism and emotional intelligence

Rebecca Feasey

in Masculinity and Popular Television

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748627974
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651184 | DOI:
Reality television: ordinariness, exhibitionism and emotional intelligence

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Since the 1980s, the term ‘reality TV’ has been used by the audiences and industry alike to refer to a wide range of programmes that focus on non-professional actors in a range of both real-life and highly contrived situations. However, regardless of the authenticity or the artificiality of a particular stage or scenario, audiences have recently responded to the presentation of unscripted and ordinary people on television. This chapter outlines the changing nature of reality programming, focusing on the debates surrounding the genre's claims to the real. It then focuses on the representation of masculinity in reality TV. The chapter examines the depiction of masculinities in the reality programme Big Brother 8 UK (2007), along with the ways in which a number of contestants can be seen to construct and circulate specific representations of male identity for the attention of the audience. Furthermore, because the contestants can nominate their least favourite housemate, and because the audience can evict contestants per week, it can hence examine those models of masculinity which are considered to be the most authentic, appealing or destructive, concluding that the most popular housemates tend to be those who challenge the hegemonic model of the male.

Keywords: reality TV; reality programming; masculinity; Big Brother 8; male identity; models of masculinity

Chapter.  9177 words. 

Subjects: Television

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