Month: January 2018

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May the Best Woman Win: On RuPaul’s Drag Race

by Hannah Leadley

Last month, iconic drag queen RuPaul was quoted in the Canadian House of Commons during the question period for Bill C66, legislation that would expunge the criminal records of those convicted for same-sex activity. Michelle Rempel, a Conservative MP, said, “… and because I’m not sure anyone has ever done this in the House of Commons before,

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Invisible Walls: The Mundanity and Metatext of Terrace House

by Pamela Dungao

Every time I tell someone about Terrace House, I am met with the same responses. They tell me they’re four episodes in and they can’t go on. They shy away from the show’s pacing (slow), the show’s tone (chill, boring), and its direction (aimless). Others tell me they’ve already seen it,

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A Complicated Palate: The Heaven and Hell of Reality-TV Food Shows

by Catherine Brezicki

It’s a weeknight, and you’ve just settled into the couch with your wine and cheese (or whatever other artery-constructing snacks your heart desires). You flick on the show that’s meant to wipe your mind for the next few hours. Picture this: the camera pans across a stunning, serene English country estate. Birds sing and lambs frolic in the field.

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On Dance Moms and Reclaiming the Narrative

by Amy Gabrielle Oldfield

What happens when reality stars outlive their TV show? It doesn’t happen often. While monoliths like Big Brother and American Idol occasionally produce breakout celebrities, the name of the franchise tends to remain bigger than any one contestant on a reality show. Dance Moms wasn’t as popular or as long-lived,

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Fat Land

by Kathryn Stagg

Under the auspices of reality television, there is an entire subculture of shows devoted exclusively to the obese. These shows, with an articulated focus on fat people, seem to vary significantly from program to program. Some, like The Biggest Loser, follow your standard competition and transformation narrative. Others, like Fat Chance,

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On Mohammed Assaf, Arab Idol, and WhatsApp

by Amanda Ghazale Aziz

For the longest time, Arab reality shows only materialized onscreen if you happened to live in a region where the show aired, or if you owned a massive chunk of metal planted in your backyard that could transmit 500 channels from all over the world. If your parents (like mine) couldn’t afford a satellite TV,

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On MTV’s The Challenge and the Reality TV Universe

by Alma Talbot

I’ve been watching reality TV shows for so long that I’ve reached a complete state of shamelessness. I remember the exact night that the first episode of Survivor aired. It was a Wednesday—the evening of my weekly ballet lesson—and when I got home wearing my pink leotard and clutching a bag of McNuggets from the drive-thru,

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The Public Face: Introducing a Month on Reality Television

by Rudrapriya Rathore

For me, the public has always been an embarrassing place. Given the choice to either go outside and get a coffee, or stay in and settle for tea, I will always choose the latter. The energy required to get dressed, become presentable, and pull together that public face—the only one I’m comfortable letting strangers see—seems too big an expense for little to no reward.