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Cat in the Stax: Reality Television

By Ethan Shea

"Hand Crushing Rose"

A few weeks ago, yet another season of The Bachelor began, and just in time for yesterday’s holiday. It may seem like reality television has no place in a library. If libraries are places of learning, why would they promote something as vapid as reality television? But maybe there’s more to these TV shows than meets the eye.

Just a quick search into Falvey’s online database will bring you a plethora of information on reputable research involving reality TV.

For example, one aspect of reality TV worthy of study is the effect of surveillance. In shows like Big BrotherLove Island, and The Bachelor, contestants are watched almost constantly for weeks on end. This undoubtedly has a profound effect on participants. A book titled The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television: Watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette confronts these issues directly with specific regard to how each show watches women. You can find this text on the fourth floor of Falvey’s stacks.

Another reason reality TV makes for fascinating research is because of the phenomenon of spectatorship associated with the genre. Lots of people love reality television, and researchers want to know what makes these shows so appealing.

The book Reality Television: The TV Phenomenon that Changed the World takes a close look at why people love reality television and even why they choose to take part in it. This text treats the reality genre as worthy of critical attention because of its status in popular culture rather than just a trashy form of entertainment.

What do you think of reality television? Is it useless entertainment, or does it have a place in academia? Leave a comment below with your opinion!

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.

1 People Like This Post


  1. Comment by Therese — February 19, 2023 @ 12:46 PM

    It makes me sad that reality TV has gained so much of America’s interest. Alas, it really is no different than the soap operas our parents loved to watch as far as truthfulness. I guess I have never understood why people want to watch celebrities or reality TV. One teacher of mine in HS said it was a way to escape the mundane existence that most of us have. This just seemed so weird to me. I know my life is average, but I don’t see how watching fantastical shows changes that. The handful of times I have been forced to watch a reality show, I have spent the entire time pondering how there are enough people who find it entertaining that these things have proliferated.

  2. Comment by Ethan Shea — February 20, 2023 @ 12:18 PM

    It certainly is an interesting phenomenon. Thank you for engaging with our blog!
    – Ethan

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Last Modified: February 15, 2023

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