…feel of much of later reality television…   15 comments



Reality television as it is currently understood can be directly linked to several television shows that began in the late 1980s and early 1990s. COPS, which first aired in the spring of 1989 and came about partly due to the need for new programming during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike,[9] showed police officers on duty apprehending criminals; it introduced the camcorder look and cinéma vérité feel of much of later reality television. The series Nummer 28, which aired on Dutch television in 1991, originated the concept of putting strangers together in the same environment for an extended period of time and recording the drama that ensued. Nummer 28 also pioneered many of the stylistic conventions that have since become standard in reality television shows, including a heavy use of soundtrack music and the interspersing of events on screen with after-the-fact „confessionals” recorded by cast members, that serve as narration. One year later, the same concept was used by MTV in their new series The Real World and Nummer 28 creator Erik Latour has long claimed that The Real World was directly inspired by his show.[10] However, the producers of The Real World have stated that their direct inspiration was An American Family.[11]

According to television commentator Charlie Brooker, this type of reality television was enabled by the advent of computer-based non-linear editing systems for video (such as those produced by Avid Technology) in 1989. These systems made it easy to quickly edit hours of video footage into a usable form, something that had been very difficult to do before. (Film, which was easy to edit, was too expensive to shoot enough hours of footage with on a regular basis.)[12]

The Swedish TV show Expedition Robinson, created by TV producer Charlie Parsons, which first aired in 1997 (and was later produced in a large number of other countries as Survivor), added to the Nummer 28/Real World template the idea of competition and elimination, in which cast members/contestants battled against each other and were removed from the show until only one winner remained. (These shows are now sometimes called elimination shows.)

Changing Rooms, a British TV show that began in 1996, showed couples redecorating each others’ houses, and was the first reality show[citation needed] with a self-improvement or makeover theme…

15 responses to “…feel of much of later reality television…

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