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The Role of Interactivity to the Success of Reality Television Shows Essay

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Updated: Apr 1st, 2019


Over the years television programs were meant to inform, educate and entertain listeners. Most programs were mostly transmitted in a one direction way.

However, this has changed as most television programs nowadays continuously seek to involve the listeners either to ask questions or to give their opinions and comments concerning the program. The aim of this essay is to investigate the importance of such interactive programs to the listeners. This study is going to use two reality formats of the British television programs.

“As Seen On TV” The Celebrity Expert: How Taste is Shaped by Lifestyle Media

This was a work of art that was created by Helen Powell and Sylvie Prasad. The two have vast experiences in working with the media and are both professionals in the same field. Helen had in the past worked in the advertising industry and is currently employed by the university of East London as a senior lecturer and program leader in advertising.

On her part, Sylvie is currently lecturing media and cultural studies at the University of East London besides being a leader in media practice. The two have explicitly examined and documented the importance of the role of interactivity to the success of the reality television show (Powell & Prasad 2010, p. 115).

According to them lifestyle television has dominated the screens of the television sets in the United Kingdom since the year 1980. Within this period of time it has helped to reach out a huge number of the people and consequently appeal to them in various ways.

Based on this it could be argued that Lifestyle television has an immense power to transform the lifestyles of viewers and the citizens at large. It is also capable of remodeling reality. This is where a television program is designed not only to capture the reality but also to arbitrate in it. This has an impact of changing the perception of the viewers concerning an event or a phenomenon (Bennett 2003, p. 45).

Apparently most of the lifestyle programs fall under a sub-genre of reality TV. This is where television programs are presented in unscripted, dramatic and sometimes humorous situations that feature common people instead of the normal professional actors.

Sometimes the actors engage in a competition in which a price is usually awarded. In the United Kingdom, the British Broadcasting Corporation is one of the leading providers of lifestyle television. In a lifestyle television, a lot of things are expected.

There are makeover shows that are designed to change private spaces such as the garden and homes. They also transform the body besides transforming ordinary people into celebrities and vice versa.

The latter would require the participants to involve themselves in cast communication networks that create images, which makes styles and experiences familiar to an unprecedented scale (Lai-Yeung 2010, p. 305).

The wide adoption of capitalism across the world nations has led to the embrace of a more consumer driven society. In essence there has been a remarkable weakening of the demarcations of class boundaries. The net effect of this is insecurity and the provision of opportunities for social aspirations and mobility.

The real inequalities in lifestyle however can be hidden through lifestyle television when ordinary people ignore the social status and take up roles that initially only belonged to celebrities. It is against this backdrop that many should be encouraged to easily access the electronic media such as televisions.

This is because it allows viewers to get exposed to the outside world that they could have otherwise not known anything about. This however has two perspectives which are both positive and negative.

In the negative aspect, the media sees television as suppressing the age long demarcations of class and taste. It also interprets it as an idea whose aim is to water down the traditional communities and societies apart from viewing other ways of life as familiar and obtainable.

Further the negative stereotyping considers easier access to the media as a vice whose resultant effects include individualism, destabilization of the society and greed. The positive aspect on the other hand appreciates the fact that television expresses life in different ways and therefore offers human being with an opportunity to participate in a free and democratic society.

In addition, television presents and exposes different scenarios that are actually happening to the human society such as inequality. It is, therefore, upon the viewers to learn from this and correct such situations. The case is the representation of the underclass in the Cathy Come Home film of the 1960s (Loach 1966, p. 1).

Some scholars have noted that lifestyle television can be equated to the beautification of the everyday life. One is equated to an object which is ready to be read by others. The only thing that makes the difference between the objects is the state of the symbolic rivalry and not the amount of wealth an object possess.

In this context the beautification are the surface characteristics of the identity of the actors. It shows what they represent in the society.

The changes in the British society over the years can be attributed to the changes in the television industry in the United Kingdom and vice versa. The television lifestyle has ensured that the traditional ways of life of the British society where skills were acquired only with time have been broken down.

It also destabilized the formerly fixed roles across different segments of the population. The media has also put more emphasis on national building and improvements in the internal welfare of the state. Consequently, the British society has undergone several changes including the rise in consumer choice and increase in home ownership.

Because of the media, there has been an upsurge in the number of women in the work force and rise in the number of households and homes with single parentage and occupancy within the British society.

The media, on the other hand, has undergone several technological changes. Over the years, the media industry has continued to experience fewer regulations and increase in the commercial interests together with changes in the PSB (Holmes & Jermyn 2004, p. 103).

The Cultural Politics of Celebrities

Celebrities are common features in the media of the Western culture. Even though celebrities have been in existence since time immemorial, the growth in the accessibility and the use of the modern mass media such as the internet, television, radio and television among others have enhanced the awareness of the public about the celebrities over the past century.

The increase in the number multi channel digital television, radio and World Wide Web has proportionally led to the rise to the number of places that celebrities are seen and the competition for the audience.

The development in the media systems which came as a result of the rise of the capitalist ideologies has everything to do with the growth of the celebrity culture. In a television program, celebrities play a great role in attracting and retaining audiences thereby offsetting the dangers associated with cultural production.

Celebrities are also able to simulate an individual while performing within the private or public glare at the same time through television programs. The modern celebrity culture is pervasive, diverse and broad. This can be demonstrated in a television programs whereby the TV shows that the particular celebrity features are likely to attract many and diverse audiences.

The different categories of celebrities that exist such as reality television performers, celebrity chefs and the star athletes provide audiences with complex and different set of relationships and points of identification. To this end, it can therefore be argued that media celebrities provide Para-social interactions with the audiences.

This is because they rebrand the effects of an existing relationship between the performer and the audience even though the information that is conveyed flows in one way.

However, despite the fact that there are a lot of celebrity manuscripts and productions, there seems to be a physical disconnect between the celebrities themselves and the audiences. Some celebrities have proved to be inaccessible (Andrews & Jackson 2002, p. 89).

The nature of the modern contemporary culture would be easily understood only after getting the real explanation from the celebrity. By definition, celebrity is the ascription of glamorous or notorious status to an individual who enjoys the public limelight.

Glamour is normally related with constructive public acknowledgement while notoriety is associated with inauspicious public recognition. Celebrities are further grouped into three categories. These are ascribed celebrities, achieved celebrities and attributed celebrities. An ascribed celebrity is the one from the lineage of celebrity hood. This is a celebrity who is born to a family which already has a celebrity tag.

They include the members of the ruling dynasties and the royal family. A good example is Prince Williams. Meanwhile an achieved celebrity is the one who has earned his celebrity status from his or her own accomplishments in an open and free competition like Lionel Messi with his magic football skills.

On the other hand, an attributed celebrity is the one who, through the concentrated efforts of others like personal assistants, photographer, agents or publicists, has earned skills and rare talents that have catapulted him or her to stardom; this celebrity does not really posses any special skill.

It is important to note that unlike the attributed celebrity, both the ascribed and the achieved celebrities normally require intermediaries in order to advance or promote and maintain their celebrity status (Bennett 2003, p. 35).

The acquisition of a celebrity status implies that one assumes a life in which his or her life is divided between the public galore and private. In the past, people who were considered celebs had their images on coins of the realm or painted on portraits. Others had sculptures made for them.

That is dissimilar compared to what happens nowadays, the present day celebrity is produced and transmitted by the mass media through mediated interaction. This is where a technical medium is used to transmit information to people who are separated from each other spatio-temporally.

The technical medium normally used includes film, the print media, television and the internet among others. However, not all celebrities are the same, those who are the products of television programs are not the same with their counterparts in the Hollywood movie stars.

The latter normally create artificial characteristics in order to relate with their viewers more. In effect the duty of the cultural intermediaries in influencing and maintaining celebrity status is veiled.

Celebrities normally work through mediations they assume the position of a mediated persona. They let information to flow and reach the audience through the transmission of their images.

Their most likely mode of message transmission is the mass media. By the very fact that the mass media has the potential of quick transmission of information and could reach a wide global audience, these celebrities normally appeal to many people.

Lately various arguments and debates have been advanced on the role of the media, particularly television in relation to the loss of social space and place as well as the decline of the expert or specialist. Traditionally some specific physical locations influenced the social roles or the positions and accessing the electronic media contributed to the breakdown of the barriers of space and place.

Celebrities have revitalized the media to appear in such a way that the past physical spaces no longer influence the exchange of information. The exchange of information instead contributes to the mergence of discreet communities.

The traditional models of passing on information through family and community institutions over time as a means of acquiring information has long been replaced by a form of learning based on a piece meal criteria where information acquisition is centered on the media (Powell & Prasad 2010, p. 46).


Andrews, DL & Jackson, SJ 2002, Sport stars: the cultural politics of sporting celebrity, Routledge, Hull.

Bennett, J 2013, ‘The television personality system: televisual stardom revisited after film theory’, Screen, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 32-50.

Cathy Come Home 1966, television program directed by Loach, K [Motion Picture].

Holmes, S & Jermyn, D 2004, Understanding reality television, Routledge, Hull.

Lai-Yeung, TW 2010, ‘TV as a multimedia synchronous communication for cooking and eating activities: analysis of TV cooking shows in Hong Kong’, Multimedia (ISM), 2010 IEEE International Symposium, Conference Publications, Hong Kong, pp. 302-307.

Powell, H & Prasad, S 2010 ‘As Seen on TV, the celebrity expert: How taste is shaped by lifestyle media’, Cultural Politics 2010, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 111-124.

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