Synopses & Reviews
From The Apprentice
to Extreme Makeover
, reality television has transformed network and cable television. Whether it is learning to succeed in business, navigating the rough waters of romance, managing our health or wallets, or perfecting the profile of our faces, reality television dispenses a powerful prescription for ways to live and conduct ourselves as “neo-liberal” citizen-subjects, who increasingly are expected to take responsibility for our own welfare in the aftermath of the “Great Society.”
Better Living through Reality TV asserts that reality television is a cultural technology through which we have come to monitor, motivate, improve, transform, and protect ourselves in the name of freedom, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Combining cutting-edge theories of culture and government with programming examples—including Todd TV, Survivor, and American Idol—Better Living through Reality TV moves beyond the established concerns of political economy and cultural studies to conceptualize television's evolving role in the contemporary period.
"Better Living through Reality TV
achieves what cultural theory does at its best: a fascinating, insightful, and clear-eyed look at contemporary society as seen through the lens of pop culture."
"With this book, reality TV scholarship finally 'gets real'."
Combining cutting-edge theories of culture and government with programming examples—including Todd TV
, and American Idol
—Better Living through Reality TV
moves beyond the established concerns of political economy and cultural studies to conceptualize television's evolving role in the contemporary period.
- A major textbook on the impact of reality and lifestyle television on today’s programming, and on broader social, cultural and political trends
- Draws on a range of examples from The Apprentice and American Idol to Extreme Makeover and Wife Swap
- Argues that reality television teaches viewers to monitor, motivate, improve, transform and protect themselves in the name of freedom, enterprise, and personal responsibility
About the Author
is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is co-editor of Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture
and author of Viewers Like You? How Public TV Failed the People
James Hay is an Associate Professor in the College of Communication at the University of Illinois--Champaign-Urbana. He is a co-editor of The Audience and Its Landscape.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations.
1. Charity TV: Privatizing Care, Mobilizing Compassion.
2. TV Interventions: Personal Responsibility and Techniques of the Self.
3 Makeover TV: Labors of Reinvention.
4. TV and the Self-Defensive Citizen.
5. TV's Constitutions of Citizenship.
6. Playing TV's Democracy Game.