Reality TV: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reality TV

1st Edition

By Annette Hill


184 pages

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Reality TV is popular entertainment. And yet a common way to start a conversation about it is ‘I wouldn’t want anyone to know this but…’ Why do people love and love to hate reality TV?

This book explores reality TV in all its forms - from competitive talent shows to reality soaps - examining a range of programmes from the mundane to those that revel in the spectacle of excess. Annette Hill’s research draws on interviews with television producers on the market of reality TV and audience research with over fifteen thousand participants during a fifteen year period.

Key themes in the book include the phenomenon of reality TV as a new kind of inter-generic space; the rise of reality entertainment formats and producer intervention; audiences, fans and anti-fans; the spectacle of reality and sports entertainment; and the ways real people and celebrities perform themselves in cross-media content.

Reality TV explores how this form of popular entertainment invites audiences to riff on reality, to debate and reject reality claims, making it ideal for students of media and cultural studies seeking a broader understanding of how media connects with trends in society and culture.


‘Reality Television’ is the loose label used to cover a very wide range of popular programmes, including work of creative intelligence and of exploitative distortion. Hill concisely reviews existing research and debate in order to explore further how diverse forms of factual entertainment actually work as viewing experiences and to ask what kind of values are involved.

John Corner, Professor in Communication Studies, University of Leeds

In Reality TV Hill takes us through the key moments of this definition-defying form. From the Big Brother house, to the Pro-Wrestler arenas, Hill questions our fascination with the ‘performance of the real’ and our continued search for authenticity. This timely analysis puts Reality TV in the centre of the debate about contemporary culture.

Jane Roscoe, Director of the London Film School and former Head of International Content, SBS

… Hill discusses the development of reality TV up to Big Brother, and the uses the theory of Erving Goffman to examine performance of the self by participants in reality TV formats… This is a volume for those collecting the rest of the series or who do now own Ouellette's edited collection.

S. Clerc, Southern Connecticut State University, USA, in CHOICE

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Big Brother Moment 3. Performance of the Self 4. Reality TV Experiences 5. Reality and Sports Entertainment 6. Connclusion

About the Author

Annette Hill is a Professor of Media at Lund University, Sweden. Her research focuses on audiences, with interests in media experiences, everyday life, genres and cultures of viewing. Her most recent book is Paranormal Media (2011). Her forthcoming title is Media Experiences (2016).

About the Series

Key Ideas in Media & Cultural Studies

The Key Ideas in Media and Cultural Studies series covers the main concepts, issues, debates and controversies in contemporary media and cultural studies. Titles in the series constitute authoritative, original essays rather than literary surveys, but are also written explicitly to support undergraduate teaching. The series provides students and teachers with lively and original treatments of key topics in the field.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies