African American Stereotypes Reality Television

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Reality programs have dominated television networks since their rise in popularity began in the early 1990s with MTV’s The Real World. The reality genre quickly gained viewership as it redefined the formulaic set up of televisions shows from the past. Reality television has infiltrated television because networks prefer low budgets for their programs that also generate high ratings (Hasinoff, 2008). People watch reality shows because they are intrigued by the seemingly “real” drama with ordinary people as characters (Dubrofsky, 2006). Now at its peak of growth, reality television evokes ideas of social order and cultural norms to its audiences, while perpetuating racial stereotypes in society (Mendible, 2004). My purpose of the review of literature is to examine and analyze reality television’s influence on people’s perceptions of African American stereotypes.

Reality Television

Reality based television has a broad landscape ranging from competitive game-like shows to programs following the daily lives of a group of people. Every major network now has some form of reality programming because the genre’s shows are high in viewership and require low costs for production. The genre is appealing to viewers because it provides them with a first-hand look into the lives of everyday people, which allows them to observe social behavior that helps them determine what is appropriate or not (Tyree, 2011, p. 397). Since the majority of modern reality stars start out as unknowns, frequent viewers of reality programming believed that fame is obtainable if they appear on a popular show (Mendible, 2004). According to Mendible’s evaluation of the genre in the article Humiliation, Subjectivity, and Reality TV, people enjoy reality programs beca...

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...evision and other forms of mass media.


Bell-Jordan, K. E. (2008). Black, white and a survivor of the real world: Constructions of race on reality tv. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25, 353-372

Boylorn, R. M. (2008). As seen on tv: An autoethnographic reflection on race and reality television. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25 (4), 413-433.

Dubrofsky, R. (2006). Whiteness in the harem. Crticial Studies in Media Communication, 23 (1), 39-56.

Hasinoff, A.A. (2008). Fashioning race for the free market on america’s next top model. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25 (3), 324-343.

Mendible, M. (2004). Humiliation, subjectivity, and reality tv. Feminist Media Studies, 4 (3), 394-413.

Tyree, T. (2011). African american stereotypes in reality television. Howard Journal of Communications, 22 (4), 394-413.
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