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Inhaltsangabe: The origins of, and in many ways the prototype for, modern reality programming can be traced to Real People, a show that premiered on the NBC network in April of 1979. An instant ratings success, Real People appealed to an audience that clamored for stories about "everyday" men and women. However, many of the vignettes focused on individuals who were far from average-eccentric collectors, allegedly talented performers, and inspirational overachievers-many of whom could be called quirky, if not just plain weird. In the wake of the show's success, a rash of imitators followed, so that what had started out as a counter-programming gamble became the norm, and now the television airwaves are littered with reality shows. In Real People and the Rise of Reality Television, Michael McKenna looks at the show that started a trend in television viewing, one that now permeates not only the major networks but almost all of cable channels as well. McKenna traces the history of reality programming back to the early days of television up to the late 1970s when networks were beginning to take a chance on non-scripted prime time shows. The author provides an in-depth look at how the show evolved from profiles of peculiar characters to an almost weekly display of hyper-patriotism, largely fueled by a desperate desire to recover from the disappointments and dislocations of the 1970s. McKenna also charts the rise of shows that aimed to duplicate Real People's success-both in prime time and at other hours: That's Incredible!, The People's Court, COPS, America's Funniest Home Videos, and MTV's The Real World. Though Real People was cancelled in 1984, reality-themed programming flourished and this look at the show's history makes for a fascinating read. Fans of nonfiction programs owe a debt to the show that started it all, and Real People and the Rise of Reality Television provides readers with insights into how and why one show changed the cultural landscape forever.
Rezension: American reality television, which rose to prominence in the late 1990s to the early 2000s thanks to competition shows such as Survivor and American Idol, actually has roots in the game shows and celebrity programming of the 1970s. Author McKenna highlights Real People-a show that premiered in 1979 and featured, well, real people who had a unique occupation or hobby-as the prime precursor to today's reality shows. The narrative runs through the mid-'80s, referencing such shows as The People's Court, A Current Affair, and That's Incredible! Appendixes include a Real People episode guide and a list of reality-televisions shows from 1979 to '92. This title would be useful for academic collections that support media studies, and larger public libraries might consider this an interesting selection for the circulating shelves. Booklist McKenna traces the history of reality television, a decades-old style of programming with seemingly no end of viewers. He argues that modern reality programming, as a genre, started with Real People, a show that aired on NBC from 1979 to 1984 and influenced future shows in the reality television genre. The author provides in-depth discussion of Real People, examining how it managed to capture a huge audience. Watching individuals who are 'average Americans,' albeit in often odd and 'not average' situations, seems to have vast appeal, as evidenced by the creation of numerous cable channels centering on the genre. An appendix includes a map of Real People filming locations (shows were shot in all 50 states), an episode guide detailing each show and its participants, and a list of nationally broadcast reality-themed shows from 1976 to 1992. This volume joins a growing literature on reality television...Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. CHOICE
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