Research Proposal

Reality television has gradually taken over a vast majority of all programmes on television today. There is more dating, renovations, cooking, singing and auction hunting than ever on our televisions then there was when reality television first became popular in the early 2000’s. Since the explosion of reality television in Australia, the population has watched twenty four complete strangers enter a house for three months with no outside communication on Big Brother, teams compete to prove their kitchen rules and a bachelor simultaneously date twenty five women to find his future wife.

According to an article published on news.com in January of 2015, the author Colin Vickery calculated that between channels Seven, Nine and Ten an estimated 1500 hours of reality television made within the country alone would be broadcast to Australians last year. This is before the addition of reality shows from other countries including shows such as Geordie Shore from the UK and Duck Dynasty or Keeping up with the Kardashians from the US.

While the overall appeal of reality television has declined in Australia over the years, with the cancellation of Big Brother and the low ratings of renovation show House Rules last year, many Australians are still obsessed. Everyone loves to indulge in a bit of reality television, it’s a very common guilty pleasure for many all around the world and even though it’s rare that a grown man will openly admit that they love a bit of Real Housewives, we all do it! Personally, I love Keeping up with the Kardashians. It doesn’t matter if I watched it last week and at the end thought that was the most wasteful forty minutes of my week, I just can’t get enough, I’m back again the week after ready for more! I have that curiosity to watch week after week so I can truly keep up with the Kardashians.

But how accurate and fair are these shows at representing the real reality that we experience every day? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that some if not most reality television shows are scripted but to what degree are the other reality shows you can’t tell are scripted, scripted? These questions have always been a curiosity of mine and so it was decided they were going to be the main focus of my research project. The primary question I will propose is ‘is reality television a good/fair representation of reality and how much to a degree do you think reality television is scripted?’

Using the cancellation of Big Brother and how viewers lost interest over the years when it became very obvious how scripted the show really was and singing show The Voice which currently seems to be unscripted and has real rewards for contestants when the show finishes as case studies I will investigate my proposed question using various research tools.

A majority of my research will be conducted as qualitative data through the use of surveys, focus groups and interviews where open-ended and closed-ended questions will be asked to other students from the University of Wollongong to gather the information necessary and relevant for my project. Questions will include those such as whether students believe reality television is a good and/or fair representation of reality and also how much of reality television today is scripted. I will also ask participants what shows they believe are and aren’t scripted that are currently on television including those from other countries and why they think reality television is scripted instead of letting shows play out like real reality.  Privacy of participants will be protected throughout my primary research and nothing will be disclosed without the participant’s permission beforehand. The option of anonymity will be available and not all question asked of participants will be compulsory to answer if uncomfortable with sharing answers.

Ultimately through my research I am aiming to determine what makes reality television so appealing to viewers, if viewers realise their favourite show might be completely false, made up and nothing like reality and why certain reality shows are scripted but others aren’t and if shows are scripted to what degree.

References:

Vickery, C 2015, ‘Aussie viewers will be swamped with more than 1500 hours of reality TV shows in 2015’, News.com, 26 January, viewed 21 March, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/reality-tv/aussie-viewers-will-be-swamped-with-more-than-1500-hours-of-reality-tv-shows-in-2015/news-story/7074446f625dbac50e10b83dcbf815ab>

Rupel, D 2016, ‘How Reality TV Works’, Writers Guild of America, viewed 21 March 2016, <http://www.wga.org/organizesub.aspx?id=1091>

Adalian, J 2015, ‘The Boom Days of Reality TV are Over’, Vulture, viewed 21 March 2016, <http://www.vulture.com/2015/09/reality-tv-boom-days-are-over.html#>

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