American reality television dating game
That show was a gleeful train wreck, powered by its female contestants’ desperation to be picked, which is to say, married.Pozner detects a similar anxiety in a more venerable show, “The Bachelor,” which recently ended its fifteenth season on ABC.But for decades “An American Family” looked like an anomaly; by 1983, when HBO broadcast a follow-up documentary on the Louds, Mead’s “new kind of art form” seemed more like an artifact of an older America.Worthy heirs to the Louds arrived in 1992, with the début of the MTV series “The Real World,” which updated the formula by adding a dash of artifice: each season, a handful of young adults were thrown together in a house, and viewers got to know them as they got to know one another.Each of them are from varied backgrounds and every seven years they are re-interviewed. Seven strangers picked to live in a house And have their lives taped See what happens when people stop being polite And start getting real The Real World (fill in the location) The first time stars were created by showcasing 20 somethings fighting and getting drunk and trashing a mansion. Her contribution, which wasn’t mentioned on the cover, appeared in the back of the magazine, after the listings, tucked between an advertisement for Virginia Slims and a profile of Shelley Winters.
There is an expectedly acerbic analysis of “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire,” one of the first shots fired in the current reality revolution (it aired on Fox, as a one-time special, in February, 2000), in which the winner of a televised beauty pageant agreed to marry, sight unseen, a “multimillionaire”—who, it later emerged, was possibly a thousandaire, and definitely the target of a restraining order filed by a former girlfriend.It wasn’t until 2000, though, that Mead’s grand claim started to look prescient.That year, a pair of high-profile, high-concept summer series nudged the format into American prime time: “Big Brother,” a Dutch import, was built around surveillance-style footage of competitors locked in a house; “Survivor,” a Swedish import, isolated its stars by shipping them somewhere warm and distant, where they participated in faux tribal competitions.“I think we need a new name for it,” she wrote, and in the past decade we have mainly settled on “reality television,” although not without trepidation.“Reality” is, if not quite a misnomer, a provocation—a reminder of the various constraints and compromises that define the form.
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Although the producers pile on signifiers of romance—ball gowns, candles, roses, breathy declarations—the weekly eliminations are what give the show its cruel but satisfying rhythm.