How Real is Reality TV?

Reality TV is a new publication released by June Deery, associate professor in the Department of Communication and Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,


Media Relations

July 8, 2015

How Real is Reality TV?

New Publication by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Media Studies Professor Explores History and Current Significance of Reality Television

Troy, N.Y. —  According to June Deery, associate professor in the Department of Communication and Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, reality TV has changed television and changed reality, even for those who are not among the millions who watch. Deery’s latest publication, Reality TV, is written for a broad audience and it addresses questions such as: How real is reality TV? How do its programs represent gender, sex, class, and race? How does reality TV relate to politics, to consumer society, to surveillance?  What kind of ethics are on display?

Drawing on current media research and the author’s own analysis, the publication encompasses the history and evolution of reality television, its production of reflexive selves and ordinary celebrity, its advertising and commercialization, and its’ spearheading of new relations between television and social media.

“To dismiss this programming as trivial is easy,” says Deery. “Today, reality television merits serious attention and I believe that the analysis included in this study will interest students in media studies, cultural studies, politics, and sociology—or anyone who is simply curious about this global phenomenon.”

Deery received her bachelor’s degree in Literature from Trinity College, Dublin; and a Ph.D. in Literature from Oxford University. Over the years, she has focused her research on media studies and is particularly interested in contemporary television and its interface with the internet. She writes on commercialization, on politics, and on gender and class. For some time, Deery has also been investigating cultural understandings of fact and fiction and is now exploring their status in multiplatform environments.

Examples of her recently published work include: “Commercialization” in The Companion to Reality Television  (Wiley-Blackwell Press) ; “Interior Design: Commodifying Self and Place in ‘Extreme Makeover,’ ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ and ‘The Swan’” in The Great American Makeover: Television, History and Nation (Palgrave Macmillan); “Reality TV as Advertainment” in Popular Communication; “Trading Faces: the Makeover Show as Prime-time Infomercial” in Feminist Media Studies; and “TV.Com: Participatory Viewing on the Web” in the Journal of Popular Culture.

Deery has received awards for best journal article, best conference paper, and for teaching. In 2010, she was the recipient of Rensselaer Trustees’ Outstanding Teacher Award and in 2009 the School of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Teaching Award. 


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