Varieties of Scripted Reality Programs in Television and on the Internet.
Comparative Analyses of Production, Product and Reception in (German-speaking) Switzerland (2014 – 2016)
Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
SNF Research Database Entry (German)
Principal Advisor: Klaus Neumann-Braun
Researcher: Daniel Klug
The project focuses on a type of reality program found on German-speaking television, so-called “scripted reality”. Scripted reality shows are a specific phenomenon typically based on a fictional script while also integrating factual elements. This is because such shows rely on the nonfictional performance skills of amateur actors to act out fictionalized versions (“script”) of everyday scenarios (“reality”). Since scripted reality shows adopt a documentary style of filming and aesthetic modes of presentation of traditional reality television, a close relationship to factual entertainment is created.
This research project examines the phenomenon of scripted reality formats from three main perspectives: classifying scripted reality within reality TV based on literature reviews; analyses of the production methods of scripted reality shows; and analyses of the narrative and dramatic structures of scripted reality as a media product in television and on the internet. The literature reviews aim at situating scripted reality in the broader genre of reality television to develop a typology. The analyses of the production of scripted reality should provide exemplary reconstructions of production methods in the context of relations between entertainment and information. For example, the disclosure of specific production methods can illustrate in what way producers are trying to activate authentic emotions from the amateur actors in order to integrate factual aspects into the scripted fictional story. The format analyses focus on examining key structures in selected scripted reality shows on the level of communicated aspects (e.g. form, content, dramaturgy) and the level of ways of communicating (e.g. paratexts, interpretive patterns).
The analysis of corresponding social media sites (e.g. Facebook) should illustrate the possibilities to reinforce the ambiguous nature of scripted reality shows.