Reality television  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Reality television is a genre of television programming which presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and features ordinary people instead of professional actors. Although the genre has existed in some form or another since the early years of television, the term reality television is most commonly used to describe programs produced since 2000. Documentaries and nonfictional programming such as the news and sports shows are usually not classified as reality shows.

Contents

Pop culture references

Some scripted and written works have used reality television as a plot device:

Films

Television

  • The Comeback (2005) satirizes the indignity of reality television by presenting itself as "raw footage" of a new reality show documenting the attempted comeback of has-been star Valerie Cherish.
  • Dead Set (2008) is a British television program featuring a zombie apocalypse affecting the Big Brother house. Part of the film was shot during an actual eviction with host Davina McCall making a cameo appearance.
  • Rock Rivals (2008) is a British television show about two judges on a televised singing contest whose marriage is falling apart.
  • "Fifteen Million Merits" (2011) is an episode in the first season of British television anthology series Black Mirror, set in a dystopian future in which appearing on reality television is the only way in which people can escape their miserable, jail-like conditions.
  • Unreal (2015) is an American television show that depicts the behind-the-scenes drama on a show similar to The Bachelor.
  • Bad Wolf in the TV Series Doctor Who is about a future where the population of the earth is chosen at random to compete in deadly game shows and reality TV. This includes the game show The Weakest Link.

Literature

  • "You're Another", a science fiction short story by American writer Damon Knight, first appeared in the June 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and contains perhaps the earliest fictional depiction of what is now called reality television.
  • Chart Throb (2006) is a comic novel by Ben Elton that parodies The X Factor and The Osbournes, among other reality shows.
  • Dead Famous (2001) is a comedy/whodunit novel, also by Ben Elton, in which a contestant is murdered while on a Big Brother-like show.
  • Oryx and Crake (2003), a speculative fiction novel by Margaret Atwood, occasionally makes mentions of the protagonist and his friend entertaining themselves by watching reality television shows of live executions, Noodie News, frog squashing, graphic surgery, and child pornography.
  • L.A. Candy (2009) is a young adult novel series by Lauren Conrad, which is based on her experiences on Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and The Hills.


Similar works in popular culture

A number of fictional works since the 1940s have contained elements similar to elements of reality television. They tended to be set in a dystopian future, with subjects being recorded against their will and often involved violence.

  • "The Seventh Victim" (1953) is a short story by science fiction author Robert Sheckley that depicted a futuristic game in which one player gets to hunt down another player and kill him. The first player who can score ten kills wins the grand prize. This story was the basis for the Italian film The 10th Victim (1965).
  • You're Another, a 1955 short story by Damon Knight, is about a man who discovers that he is an actor in a "livie", a live-action show that is viewed by billions of people in the future.
  • A King in New York, a 1957 film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin has the main character, a fictional European monarch portrayed by Chaplin, secretly filmed while talking to people at a New York cocktail party. The footage is later turned into a television show within the film.
  • "The Prize of Peril" (1958), another Robert Sheckley story, is about a television show in which a contestant volunteers to be hunted for a week by trained killers, with a large cash prize if he survives. It was adapted in 1970 as the TV movie Das Millionenspiel, and again in 1983 as the movie Le Prix du Danger.
  • Richard G. Stern's novel Golk (1960) is about a hidden-camera show similar to Candid Camera.
  • "It Could Be You" (1964), a short story by Australian Frank Roberts, features a day-in-day-out televised blood sport.
  • Survivor (1965), a science fiction story by Walter F. Moudy, depicted the 2050 "Olympic War Games" between Russia and the United States. The games are fought to show the world the futility of war and thus deter further conflict. Each side has one hundred soldiers who fight in a large natural arena. The goal is for one side to wipe out the other; the few who survive the battle become heroes. The games are televised, complete with color commentary discussing tactics, soldiers' personal backgrounds, and slow-motion replays of their deaths.
  • "Bread and Circuses" (1968) is an episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek in which the crew visits a planet resembling the Roman Empire, but with 20th-century technology. The planet's "Empire TV" features regular gladiatorial games, with the announcer urging viewers at home to vote for their favorites, stating, "This is your program. You pick the winner."
  • The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968) is a BBC television play in which a dissident in a dictatorship is forced onto a secluded island and taped for a reality show in order to keep the masses entertained.
  • The Unsleeping Eye (1973), a novel by D.G. Compton (also published as The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe), is about a woman dying of cancer whose last days are recorded without her knowledge for a television show. It was later adapted as the 1980 movie Death Watch.
  • "Ladies And Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis" (1976) is a short story by science fiction author Kate Wilhelm about a television show in which contestants (including a B-list actress who is hoping to revitalize her career) attempt to make their way to a checkpoint after being dropped off in the Alaskan wilderness, while being filmed and broadcast around the clock through an entire weekend. The story focuses primarily on the show's effect on a couple whose domestic tensions and eventual reconciliation parallel the dangers faced by the contestants.
  • Network (1976) includes a subplot in which network executives negotiate with an urban terrorist group for the production of a weekly series, each episode of which was to feature an act of terrorism. The climax of the film has the terrorist group being turned against the network's own unstable star, news commentator Howard Beale.
  • The Running Man (1982) is a book by Stephen King depicting a game show in which a contestant flees around the world from "hunters" trying to chase him down and kill him; it has been speculated that the book was inspired by Robert Sheckley's The Prize of Peril. The book was loosely adapted as a 1987 movie of the same name. The movie removed most of the reality-TV element of the book: its competition now took place entirely within a large television studio, and more closely resembled an athletic competition (though a deadly one).
  • The film 20 Minutes into the Future (1985), and the spin-off television series Max Headroom, revolved around television mainly based on live, often candid, broadcasts. In one episode of Max Headroom, "Academy", the character Blank Reg fights for his life on a courtroom game show, with the audience deciding his fate.
  • Vengeance on Varos (1985) is an episode of the television show Doctor Who in which the population of a planet watches live television broadcasts of the torture and executions of those who oppose the government. The planet's political system is based on the leaders themselves facing disintegration if the population votes 'no' to their propositions.


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Reality television" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools