HC431H - Reality Television (Spring/2024)

Professor: Bish Sen

4.00 credits

  • CRN 34958: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00-5:50pm @ CHA 301

Though wildly popular, reality television is a guilty pleasure for most people. This course will convince you that studying reality television helps us analyze and understand some of the key issues in contemporary culture and society. In the first section of the course, we will begin with an overview of the history of reality television and look at some classic shows that preceded and anticipated reality television. We will then examine reality television’s relationship to certain key aspects of contemporary society– neoliberal governmentality, individualistic ethics, makeover mania, celebrity culture – by analyzing shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Nanny 911, Judge Judy, Survivor and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. In the third and last section of the course, we will analyze a set of shows – The Bachelor, Indian Matchmaking, Too Hot to Handle and RuPaul’s Drag Race to bring out how reality television engages with issues of love, romance, gender, and sexuality. By enrolling in this course, you will:
•     Learn that reality television is not just escapism, rather it deals with some of the most serious issues facing us today
•     Acquire the ability to close read texts, and thus become more professional in the way you deal with information
•     Use popular culture as a tool to deepen your understanding of cultural history and community formation