Reality Television

Authored by: Vanessa Nunes

The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Cultures

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138946156
eBook ISBN: 9781315670997
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315670997-66

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Abstract

Fairy tales are particularly attractive to specific types of reality television imbricated in the trope that “dreams come true.” Our familiarity with fairy tales helps us naturalize promises of true love and makeover when we see them in reality television, a venue whose alliances supposedly lie with “the real.” Quests, transformation, and romance are found alike in both forms, but certain specific types of reality television programs such as The Bachelor (2002–) and The Swan (2004) might further be considered as reiterations of popular fairy tales. This chapter focuses on those specific forms, rather than on the entire broad category of reality television, which comprises many and distinct formats from hidden cameras and talent contests to job searching and court shows. The illusion that reality television deals with the real has to do with the assumption that these shows require minimal script and use non-actors. However, not only do participants attend situations that are out of the ordinary and explicitly contrived to be televised, but also the way these “real people” who participate are perceived depends on editing and tailoring storylines.

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