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Classed femininity, performativity, and camp in British structured reality programming

Woods, F. (2014) Classed femininity, performativity, and camp in British structured reality programming. Television and New Media, 15 (3). pp. 197-214. ISSN 1552-8316

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/1527476412462246


This article explores the representations and tonal qualities of British “structured reality” programming. Focusing on The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea, it investigates their glocalizing of the model established by MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills. It argues that while they blur boundaries between docusoap, drama, and soap opera, the British programs also recognize and foreground issues of construction for their reality TV-literate youth audience. It suggests the programs play a key role in their respective channel identities and the ideologies of British youth television, connecting to larger issues of class, gender, and taste. This is articulated through their regional and classed femininities, with the article exploring how the programs draw on classed ideologies surrounding “natural” and “excessive” femininities and of the role of this in their engagement with construction and camp play. This play contributes to the tonal shift offered by the British programs, mixing the melodrama of the MTV programs with a knowing, at times comic edge that can tip into mockery. In doing so, the programs offer their audience a combination of performative self-awareness and emotional realism that situates them clearly within British youth television

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:31282

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