Comparative Analysis of Reality TV and Short Fiction


While the adaption of fiction and short fiction to television is not a new concept, in the past producers and directors seemed mostly interested in how to stay true to the original and then blending the two genres in terms of time constraints and type of media. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the mini-series became very popular by taking long works and serializing them into multiple week programs in order to adapt the text to changes in viewers and their viewing habits. In the mid-1990’s, Reality TV moved away from DIY shows like This Old House to more person-based programs like The Real World or Survivor.

Now, reality shows are one of the most dominant forms of programming today. These shows strive to show their viewers real life with real people in either everyday circumstances or perhaps extreme circumstances (Man vs. Wild). However, most people are aware these shows are not strictly reality. They are often scripted to a degree if not completely and the plots are directed well advance. So if we know of all these things, why do we continue to watch? The reason is we love a good human story. We always have and it seems we always will. Reality TV is just an extension of the traditional fiction or drama genre segmented into episodes with commercials.


Your task is to select and analyze a reality television show as a work of fiction. Essays may analyze a wide variety traditional literary devices found in the show chosen. For example, you may look at Duck Dynasty, one of the most popular reality shows ever, and what made it so compelling for so many viewers. The idea of making duck calls is not all that interesting except perhaps for the most avid hunter. There must be more to it. Or, you may want to look at a couple of shows that works within the same genre or sub-genre like Alaskan Bush People or The Last Alaskans.

You are not limited to the more traditional reality shows. You may choose a competition reality type show like America’s Next Top Model (one of the longest running of the contemporary reality shows) or any one of the numerous cooking challenge shows. Your response may also look at how changes are made to the genre based on the medium of delivery and appeals to modern consuming habits (audience).

Paper Specifications

Page length for the out-of-class revision

  • The draft must be a minimum of 5 pages typed.
  • Drafts that do not meet the minimum will not be evaluated and will be given an automatic grade of F (50). Do not try to get around this requirement by making the margins, spacing and font larger. Please also note that this is a minimum length requirement.
  • The Works Cited page is not part of the minimum page requirement.

Format: Margins, Spacing and indentation, Font, Pagination, Heading, Title

  • 1” all around
  • Double space throughout
  • ½ inch indentation of the first line of a paragraph
  • Times New Roman 12 pt font
  • Identification of your last name and page number in top right margin, ½ inch from the top margin.
  • See EAA Ch. 27 for MLA formatting guidelines

You will need to include your name, my name, the course name, and the date. An example essay in MLA format is in the Little DK starts on pages 116-125.

Late penalties

  • Please see the syllabus for late penalties.

Use of 1st and 2nd person pronouns

  • Never use “you” or “your” unless in a direct quotation. Its use is informal and indefinite.
  • Avoid using “I” as well. There is usually a better way to write the sentence.

Works Cited

Works Cited is required.