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Not So Reality, TV

I have never been one for reality television, but I think it is safe to say that a large number and possibly the majority of the people I know are big followers of the reality TV, docusoap scene.  Being from New Jersey, it is hard to escape the fist pumps back home and the questions about the Jersey Shore while abroad.  I am not at all a big fan of the show, but a friend of mine loves it.  He claims that they are a group of geniuses that are making millions by acting dumb in front of the world.  And, sadly, he might be right.

Credit the edit

But, maybe the cast of Jersey Shore doesn’t deserve all the credit for portraying themselves that way.  Perhaps the editors deserve more credit.

After looking up how much of the reality TV docusoap is “real,” I came across this segment about reality TV editing by Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe:

I was interested to learn that reality television had a boom as a result of technology.  Because of the technology, the editing of the shows became significantly easier and more efficient.  And, clearly, almost anything can be done through editing.  Like Brooker showed, the editors can create a love interest where there isn’t one or make a good person out to be the Devil.  Whatever story the editors want to tell can and will be told.  I recall one of the people from Sylvania Waters had said, in the documentary we watched in lecture, that they would edit a single scene of drinking into multiple episodes to make it seem like the family was drinking all of the time when that was completely untrue.

It’s (hopefully) coming back into development!


Arrested Development, the series that many say was cut too short, has had recent rumors surrounding the possibility of it running for a final season on television.  A recent tweet from The New Yorker’s Twitter page read:

“News @NewYorkerFest: Arrested Development coming back for one more TV season before movie. #ArrestedDevelopment #tnyfest

The show has developed a cult following over the course of the years, even with only a three season run.  With that, fans have been attempting, for years, to get a continuation of the show.  That is why, in early 2010, when the Arrested Development movie was announced, fans were understandably thoroughly excited to see the Bluth family onscreen once more.  And, the unexpected announcement of another season of the series is only better news for the already keyed-up fans.

News of a Hulu-Netflix bidding war is only confirming the rumors of another season.  While I am not a fan of Hulu, with its plentiful commercials and lack of support outside of the US, I would not be against them winning the bid to produce the show.  I just hope it will be made.  *Fingers crossed*

Qualifying quality

I was intrigued by the concept of “quality TV” in the Week 7 lecture.  After reading more into it, I came across the group called the Viewers for Quality TV, or VQT for short.  The American group, founded in 1984, was created to save critically acclaimed shows from being cancelled regardless of their Neilsen rating, with VQT members voting for which show was of utmost quality.  However, the VQT’s membership count has fallen significantly, causing an understandable lack of funding, especially for the annual “Q” awards ceremony.

What makes quality TV, quality TV?

Is there a system of measurement for the superiority of one television program over another?  After reading Russ Taylor’s article from the Federal Communications Law Journal, entitled “Measuring Quality Television,” it seems like the answer to that question is yes and no.  Yes, there is a system of measurement, but it is a system based solely on each individual’s opinions.  Therefore, there is no constant measurement scale for the quality of television programs.  It’s not like measuring length or temperature or mass.  Gauging quality is simply too subjective.  Therefore, we, the public and the average television viewer, rely on the opinions of “experts” and critics, individuals who we may agree or disagree with about one aspect or another or at all.

The article can be found here:

Timing is everything

In the lecture, the point that we are now able to “time-shift” what was and still is a very schedule-driven media.  I found this point particularly interesting.  Through the inventions of the VCR, DVR, TiVo, video on demand, DVDs, etc., viewership is now not only reserved to those who can make the time to sit in front of their televisions at a particular time every week.  We can watch at our own pace, at our own leisure.  Furthermore, with these strides in technology, narratives are becoming increasingly complex, and right fully so.  We can now study television like a book – rewind, play, fastforward, play, stop.  No longer is humankind limited to the linear laws of time, at least not in the world of TV.

The New Family

Many of the older situational comedies have had roots in the “traditional,” middle-class family.  For instance, Roseanne, According to Jim, Everybody Loves Raymond, and The Brady Bunch.  However, newer television shows are changing up the traditional family into a more contemporary family…and Modern Family [pun unintended] is a perfect example.  Currently on its third season, Modern Family features the “standard” white American, suburban family, but it also depicts the not-so-typical gay couple raising an Asian baby and the older man with a younger, Colombian wife and a stepchild.  The program is portraying more than just the expected households, and it is broadening its characters to include those that are becoming more prevalent in the 21st century home.

Here is a trailer that explains it well:

Modern Family is also different from the older sitcoms by the way it is depicted.  Shot in a mockumentary style, similar to that of The Office, it is as if the audience is taking a glimpse into these family’s day to day lives.  It is also refreshing to see a family comedy series shot in a different way.

By stepping out of the conventional format, I think Modern Family was able to appeal to a larger audience, showing that it is at least trying to represent a larger demographic that TV sometimes seems to avoid.

Steampunk and Transmedia: Not so different after all

While browsing my Twitter feed, I came across an article, tweeted out by Jeff Gomez.  In the article, “Steampunk Storytelling in the Transmedia Frontier,” Andrew Fogel describes the similarities and relationship between the two very foreign camps of steampunk and transmedia.  Steampunk, for those who are unaware, is a subgenre and amalgamation of science fiction, alternative history, and fantasy, set during Victorian times when steam is still commonly used as a form of energy/power.  This leads to people creating futuristic, yet classic-looking, devices – objects with a mixture of and a heavy influence on functionality and aesthetics.

An example of such a device.

How does that relate to transmedia?

Fogel poses an interesting comparison between the two.  He says that ideally, every transmedia project should be, in his words, “standalone,” meaning that one can still fully enjoy the project from one media without experiencing another form/medium from the same project.  Each part should be somewhat individual with no prerequisites.  Essentially the same concept of transmedia, there are countless ways for new fans to be introduced to steampunk.  Whether it be through a movie, a book, a television program, Twitter, a webseries, a messageboard, you name it, it is likely that many introductions to the subject are brought along because of transmedia.

By having so many media outlets for the same subject, people can explore into the steampunk (or any other) scene as much or as little as they want.  In addition, each person will have their own opinion/view of the topic in question, based on the type of media and the amount of exposure he/she has encountered on any particular subject, steampunk being just one example.  Perhaps this is also a perpetuating cycle.  As a subject branches out across more media, more people are exposed to and attracted to said subject, allowing and encouraging the spread to even more types of media.

I believe that transmedia is great.  It really broadens the user/viewer experience.  Not only can I get more in depth with a particular show, there are always new webisodes, behind-the-scenes footage, blog posts, etc. that I can look forward to throughout the week rather than a once-a-week screening of a show that I want to know more about.

Article: “Steampunk Storytelling in the Transmedia Frontier” by Andrew Fogel