“A witty, original, and very smart analysis of the dark side of reality TV. Pozner expertly reveals the toxicity of what many consider to be simple lightweight entertainment and arms readers with creative ways to resist and fight back. A serious scholarly work based on years of research, Reality Bites Back is also fast-paced and fascinating. You’ll never look at these shows the same way again!”
—Jean Kilbourne, ED.D., creator, Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women film series, and author, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel
“Jennifer Pozner’s Reality Bites Back is an extraordinary gift to critical media literature. Instead of hurling down invectives against popular culture from an insulated ivory tower, Pozner is a smart, snarky fellow traveler who offers stinging criticism and stunning insights peppered with just enough colloquial profanity to keep readers laughing and shaking our heads. Pozner reminds us that TV is never accidental, but directed to reinforce particular social lessons. This should be required reading for every American girl and woman.”
—Melissa Harris–Lacewell, Princeton University, Department of Politics and Center for African American Studies, MSNBC commentator, and columnist, The Nation
“Hooray! Here comes Pozner, ready to lay some reality on reality TV. Find out why these shows sell even when we don’t watch, and what they sell, thanks to producers who say “it’s a lot of fun to watch girls crying.” Fun, fresh and furious, Reality Bites Back is feminist media criticism at its best."
—Laura Flanders, host and founder, GRITtv, and author BUSHWOMEN
This eye-opening book delves deep into the patterns, philosophies, and behind-the-scenes details surrounding a large number of reality television shows that viewers perceive as harmless entertainment and diversion. Pozner (founder & executive director, Women in Media & News) illustrates how these popular shows—from Extreme Makeover to Bridezillas to Joe Millionaire—send disturbing and demeaning gender, racial, and sexual messages that can be harmful to viewers, especially young people. She takes aim at the money-driven corporate machines that have little regard for the damaging stereotypical portrayal of women and minorities and the inappropriate, often cruel treatment of them on-screen—the ripple effects of which subtly manipulate consumer and social trends as well as cultural standards. Her point-by-point analyses of the shows and specific episodes are amazingly on-target. Pozner goes beyond merely presenting this grim dose of reality to offer concrete, practical suggestions for initiating positive change.Verdict This work is packed with incisive commentary about reality TV programming along with a wealth of in-depth research to back it up. Pozner writes in an engaging, shoot-from-the-hip style that adds additional impact to the excellent material she presents. An essential read.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ