What reality TV says about us

Listen 49:00
(photo credit Cyndi Shattuck, FSG Books)

(photo credit Cyndi Shattuck, FSG Books)

Are you a fan of reality TV shows? Shows like The Bachelor, The Kardashians, RuPaul Drag Race, The Real Housewives?  Maybe you watch them but don’t want to admit it?

Lehigh University sociology professor DANIELLE LINDEMANN has found that many people are too embarrassed to confess to binging what some label as lowbrow, trashy TV.  But Lindemann argues in a new book that if you look more closely, reality television tells us a lot about ourselves and our culture, touching on issues of sex, gender, race, class, inequality and more. Lindemann joins us to talk about the appeal, the stigma, the insights and joy of reality TV. Her new book is True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us.

Read more

The Atlantic, What Reality TV Reveals About Motherhood – Unscripted shows may be filled with a wide array of moms, but each is still judged by surprisingly conservative, rigid standards.

CNN, Reality TV can make us cringe — and teach us about ourselves, a new book says – Series like “Survivor” and “The Bachelor” aren’t just forms of escapist entertainment or windows through which to gawk at strangers in extreme scenarios, she writes — reality series hold up a funhouse mirror to their viewers through which they can learn more about themselves and their culture.

The Washington Post, In ‘True Story,’ reality TV tells us a lot about society. Maybe more than we want. – But Lindemann argues quite convincingly that despite people’s knee-jerk mockery of reality TV or reflexive embarrassment at being “caught” as a viewer, studying the genre gives us a better understanding of our world and ourselves.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal