The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences

Overview

Watch this show, buy this product, you can be a whole new you!

Makeover television shows repeatedly promise self-renewal and the opportunity for reinvention, but what do we know about the people who watch them? As it turns out, surprisingly little.

The Makeover is the first book to consider the rapid rise of makeover shows from the perspectives of their viewers. Katherine Sender argues that this genre of reality television continues a long ...

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The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences

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Overview

Watch this show, buy this product, you can be a whole new you!

Makeover television shows repeatedly promise self-renewal and the opportunity for reinvention, but what do we know about the people who watch them? As it turns out, surprisingly little.

The Makeover is the first book to consider the rapid rise of makeover shows from the perspectives of their viewers. Katherine Sender argues that this genre of reality television continues a long history of self-improvement, shaped through contemporary media, technological, and economic contexts. Most people think that reality television viewers are ideological dupes and obliging consumers. Sender, however, finds that they have a much more nuanced and reflexive approach to the shows they watch. They are critical of the instruction, the consumer plugs, and the manipulative editing in the shows. At the same time, they buy into the shows’ imperative to construct a reflexive self: an inner self that can be seen as if from the outside, and must be explored and expressed to others. The Makeover intervenes in debates about both reality television and audience research, offering the concept of the reflexive self to move these debates forward.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“With its central focus on audience practices, Sender’s lucidly-written book is unique among the growing body of scholarship on reality TV. While offering a smart and provocative analysis of the complex appeal of specific ‘makeover’ shows, she also makes a major contribution to active audience theory. In particular, she problematizes the issue of reflexivity, in the context both of viewers’ relationships with the shows and in their roles as research participants. In doing so she challenges all audience scholars to examine more carefully the very nature of the research encounter.”-S. Elizabeth Bird,author of The Audience in Everyday Life

“Like all ground-breaking studies of culture, The Makeover, appropriately, tells us not just about its object, narrowly construed, but about ourselves, the society we have created, and the contradictions that permeate both. Sender combines detailed empirical research with thoughtful and nuanced interpretation to provide us with a timely meditation on the limits—and potentials—of reflexivity. The result is a smart and original contribution to the way we think about popular culture and its relation to broader questions of self-hood, identity, and power.”-Mark Andrejevic,University of Queensland

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814740705
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2012
  • Pages: 259
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Katherine Sender is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of the book Business, Not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market (2004) and is co-editor of The Politics of Reality TV: Global Perspectives (2011).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Self-Projects: Makeover Shows and the Reflexive Imperative 1

2 Gender and Genre: Making Over Women's Culture 26

3 Not Like Paris Hilton: Instruction and Consumption in Makeover Shows 47

4 Shame on You: Schadenfreude and Surveillance 80

5 Feeling Real: Empirical Truth and Emotional Authenticity 105

6 Mirror, Mirror: The Reflexive Self 136

7 Research Reflexivity: Audiences and Investigators in Context 164

8 Once More with Feeling: Reconsidering Reflexivity 186

Appendix I Protocols 205

Appendix II Demographic Data 213

Notes 219

Bibliography 229

Index 237

About the Author 246

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