Good reality TV needs two components to make viewers believe in the shows “actuality”. The participants on the show must seem like ‘ordinary’ people and the emotions on the show seem unscripted. Since these shows participants are not trained actors, producers worry that influencing the participant too much will untimely effect the money shot. To produce good reality TV producers construct situations were conflict will naturally arise, thus participants true emotions will show through, giving viewers the desired product of people behaving badly.
She cites Hochschild’s idea of emotional work; emotions are the medium through which people express themselves. Emotional work is one’s attempt to fit with social guidelines. When produces become involved to produce a specific emotional reaction emotional work becomes emotional labor. The producers job is to put participants in situations where their emotions will shock audiences thus drawing in viewers. By giving participants ’wood’ they can then go out an perform for the audience.
I think it is important to examine the role of producer interaction in order to produce good reality TV. The key on shows like Big Brother and Jersey Shore is to make all drama look organic. Producers seem to walk a tightrope to keep the balance between creating situations and believable drama. Producers get directions from the network executives of what the network wants the show to look like, and it is their job to deliver. On lower budgeted shows like Maury producers use the elements of shock and surprise to excite emotion. The stories on the show are very outrageous, far removed form ordinary life, which entices viewers. Producers as well as audiences are never quite sure what will happen next. While this is a headache for producers it can also lead to some amazing TV because it is so “off the cuff”. I have become a big fan of Up All Night and after reading this article I will be paying much closer attention to Christina Applegate’s character as a producer to see how she creates good TV.
1) Has the drama on a TV show become so out of hand you worried the show would seem unbelievable or disliked by viewers.
2) How did you know you wanted to become a producers? Was it a situation were the opportunity arose and you took advantage of it, or was becoming a producer the goal all along
3) Have you ever had major conflict with network executives on how they wanted uyou to change one of your shows?