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Reality Television

Reality television, a wide-ranging genre purporting to depict the “real” lives, experiences, and/or circumstances of its subjects, is rooted in shows such as Candid Camera, which first appeared in 1948 and lasted through 1992; the British documentary Up Series (1964–2005); and 1970s game shows produced by Chuck Barris, including The Dating Game, The New-lywed Game, and The Gong Show.

Current reality television programs appear in varying forms, generally falling into broad categories such as the “docudramas” or “docusoaps” that chronicle the supposedly candid experiences of “ordinary” individuals (such as The Real Housewives) or celebrities along with their friends and families (for example, The Osbournes). Celebrity reality shows are vehicles meant to elevate the star of the show—and/or his/her family—to a ...

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