The reel world: A content analysis of the social construction of unreality in MTV's The Real World.
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Jeremy Lipschultz
This is a content analysis of MTV' s The Real World: Season 11 Chicago. Many articles have suggested that The Real World is a produced entity using storyboards and the all important reality footage. By focusing on one season's content this study proposed four basic queries: is the cast of The Real World chosen in a way that is meant to mirror reality, or is it chosen for a calculated dramatic effect? Is the setting of The Real World a mirror of reality, or is it a constructed stage for the show? If it is a constructed stage, what are the implications for cast members, audience members and society? What does this version of the reality television genre tell us about the theory of social construction of reality? To answer these questions the show's 23 episodes were watched with the use of a coding tool to analyze how true they were to the actual events that occurred. Two main themes emerged from this study. The first was that the producers of the show use devices such as editing, scene creation, and staging to alter the reality that existed, or would have existed in order to create a more "watchable" show. The second theme to emerge was the fact that the roommates edited themselves while interacting in their daily lives. They were aware of how the show was put together and the way the editing process can be used to distort facts, so they took steps to make sure they had some control of what the editors could use. Suggestions for future research would include examining other reality shows in order to see if the themes uncovered here are seen across the spectrum of reality television. It is important to find out more about the validity of the claims reality shows make every year.
Frascht, Ron, "The reel world: A content analysis of the social construction of unreality in MTV's The Real World." (2003). Student Work. 3022.
A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2003 Ron Frascht.