Reality TV: Much More than a Guilty Pleasure

Feb 19, 2019

Reality television has been a major presence for more than 25 years. After the unprecedented success of MTV’s “The Real World,” this genre exploded.

During this Talk of Iowa interview, Charity Nebbe talks with Racquel Gates, who argues that reality TV is not simply “trashy,” but offers things like nuanced portrayals of women of color and progressive stances on queer identities.

“Some of the things that people are labeling as trashy are really just non-normative,” she says. “One of the reasons that these shows get dismissed or condemned the way they do is because you have - especially women of color - acting in ways that seem to challenge social norms.”

Gates is an assistant professor of cinema and media studies at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and she's the author of "Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture." Gates will give a presentation in Iowa City this afternoon, titled "My Job is to be a Bad Bitch: Reality Television as ‘Negative’ Representation.”