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Reality TV And Us45:29
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From "Survivor" to "American Idol" to "Teen Mom," what more than a decade of reality TV is telling us about ourselves and our culture.

"Survivor" cast members during the season finale episode of "Survivor: Nicaragua" in December, 2010. (AP)
"Survivor" cast members during the season finale episode of "Survivor: Nicaragua" in December, 2010. (AP)

When the great anthropologist Margaret Mead caught her first glimpse of what we now call “reality TV” — way back in the 1970s — she instantly pronounced it “a new kind of art form… as new and significant as the invention of drama or the novel.”

Little did she know what would come.

“Survivor.” “Jersey Shore.” “The Biggest Loser.” “Pregnant in Heels.”

We’re a decade into the reality TV onslaught now. What would an anthropologist say? What’s it all telling us about ourselves?

This hour On Point: the deep “reveal” in reality TV.
- Tom Ashbrook
Guests:

Jennifer L. Pozner, media critic and founder and executive director of Women In Media & News. She is author of "Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV."

Brenda R. Weber, professor of gender studies at Indiana University and author of "Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity."

Kelefa Sanneh, staff writer for the New Yorker. His most recent article for the magazine is “The Reality Principle: The rise and rise of a television genre.”

This program aired on May 11, 2011.

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