Monday, March 19, 2012

Reality Television or Conflict Television

Without a doubt there is something compelling about watching reality television. The constant twists and turns as well as the drama that occurs is ideal for television audiences  but there is also an art to making 'ordinary people' into entertaining people. In her article Grindstaff answers the question of "How, then to guarantee good (that is, dramatic) television using ordinary people?"by emphasizing producers role in cultivating conflict situations. Now a days, many reality shows are formulated around situations of conflict between characters and I agree with Grindstaff's point.

An example of this constant need for 'drama' to be at the center of reality television is the emphasis of women as the main characters of reality television series. From the show Sorority Life to the Real Housewives series, it is evident that producers are constantly creating and glorifying conflict television and producers guarantee this quality reality television by strategically picking the people involved and fostering situations. Through the use of 'emotion work' producers are able to influence ordinary people, usually women, to perform their lives in front of the cameras. It is the conflict that reality stars experience that draw us in to reality television shows and it is this real yet entertaining experience that producers  use to draw viewers in.

Overall, producers try actively to create situations in which these ordinary people who we see as reality television stars can perform. Despite being ordinary people, as seen with the young women of Sorority Life, once you are placed before the cameras with the influence of producers it is difficult to not 'perform', in reality I doubt any ordinary person's life would be worthy of television without a little drama.

What is the most significant difference between producing 'reality' television and scripted series?

Can a producer do both or is it easiest to pick a type?

Do all reality shows include/ need the same type of influence and guidance from producers?

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