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Small Screen, Big FeelsTelevision and Cultural Anxiety in the Twenty-First Century$
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Melissa Ames

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813180069

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813180069.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Escaping Reality by Watching Reality TV?

Escaping Reality by Watching Reality TV?

Voyeurism, Schadenfreude, and Other Coping Mechanisms for Avoiding or Engaging in Societal Reflection

(p.42) 2 Escaping Reality by Watching Reality TV?
Small Screen, Big Feels

Melissa Ames

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter Two turns to reality television, exploring three theories of emotion that explain the rise of this televisual genre in the wake of 9/11. A study of the 2000-2010 programming schedule reveals the cultural anxieties with which producers and viewers of these shows (dis)engage. Although often considered superficial, lowbrow entertainment products meant primarily for escapist purposes, this essay argues that reality television programs grapple with important societal concerns: surveillance culture and privacy rights; the pressure of identity performance in the social media era; and shifting social, domestic, and familial expectations for men and women.

Keywords:   reality television, schadenfreude, voyeurism, performance, celebrity culture, surveillance, gender, post-9/11

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