TV Tropes Tuesday: TV Tropes: Everyone Owns a Mac

This tropes is one of many examples of how TV and film often depict a lack of realism.  This trope also involves another of my interests: technology and in particular Apple.

Everyone Owns a Mac is trope that involves depicting all or most of the characters in a work using Mac computers (and often other Apple products as well).  In real life, the vast majority of people use Windows PCs.  I myself have used them since childhood, but I have had experience with using Macs at the Apple Store and in school, since I am studying a field that often uses the Mac.

In fact, that may play a role in this trope.  Many, if not most, people in the film and TV industries use Macs.  Therefore, many of those who involved with creating film and television depict the characters using Macs even if it would be unrealistic for them to do so.

Often, characters that you see using Macs are creative types of people such as filmmakers, musicians, artists, and writers, but of course, you will see all types of characters often using them.

The trope can apply to other Apple products, but not all of them.  iPod are still the most popular MP3 players, in the real world, even though the popularity of the iPhone, iPad, and other smartphones and tablets has led to their gradual decline in popularity.  Therefore, it would not be unrealistic to depict lots of characters in one work owning and using iPods.

Using iPhones could apply to this trope because in America, at least, the iPhone was available only on the carrier AT&T.  In February 2011, it was first made available on Verizon Wireless, then on Sprint in October 2011, and finally, in April 2013 it was made available on T-Mobile and all of the four largest wireless networks carried it.  So, while the iPhone is often seen used by TV and film characters, it still may not be realistic for everyone to own an iPhone, though it is becoming more and more realistic, but that  still does not even account for other popular smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy line, for instance, which is one of Apple fiercest competitors of the iPhone and iPad.  It may be more realistic for works set in the UK or Canada.

With regard to the iPad, it would not seem so unrealistic to me, as the iPad is the most popular tablet even though there are many competitors that make up a noticeable minority such as the Samsung Galaxy tablets, the Kindle Fire, and the Google Nexus.

Now, here are some examples of this trope.

In Degrassi, the more recent seasons depict all of the characters using iPhones regardless of their financial situations.

Author Stephen King often mentions Macs in books, if his characters use computers.

On Law and Order: SVU, the detectives are regularly seen using Macs, iPhones, and iPads in the courses of their investigations.

And there are many more on the page.

Favorite Childhood Shows Friday: Favorite Childhood Shows: That’s So Raven

Happy Friday.

Today I will talk about another favorite show from my childhood.  That’s So Raven.

It aired on the Disney Channel and focused on teenager Raven Baxter played by Raven-Symone who was credited as Raven on this show.  She’s like most teenage girls.  She’s into fashion.  She has a little brother who annoyed her.  She likes hanging out with her friends.

But there was one thing that made Raven different.  She has the ability to randomly and unexpectedly receive psychic visions of the future.  Now, one might think that being psychic would make life easier for Raven; however, being psychic causes lots of issues for Raven.  Often, she misinterprets her visions, which leads to a variety of funny situations.

Raven’s state of being psychic is something that is known only by her family and friends.  She has kept it secret from most people out of fear that people would think of her as a freak (In light of Raven-Symone coming out of lesbian last summer, her character’s fear of being outed as a psychic seems to have a brand new subtext, possibly inspired from whatever issues she has in real life with coping and coming terms with her sexuality.)

I was a huge fan of the show, often laughing out loud during the entirety of the episodes and it was a huge influence on me.  I liked the zany sense of humor, and as I imagined shows in my head, I modeled the style of humor on it.  My characters would also often get in odd and bizarre comical situations, including lots of slapstick and other types of physical humor.


Favorite Childhood Shows Friday: Favorite Childhood Shows: Cow and Chicken

Today is Favorite Childhood Shows Friday.  Today, I will talk about another of my favorite shows from my childhood.  That would be Cow and Chicken.

It’s one of my favorites because of it’s sheer goofiness.  The show is about a cow and a chicken who are brother and sister.  Not only that, their parents only have lower-bodies.  Moving on, they like to eat lots of odd items like pork butts and taters, meat pinatas, ice cream con carne, cereals like horse-flavored meat, pork flakes.  They get into strange situations.  There is just off the wall insanity.

Their main adversary is the hilarious Red Guy, who has a different role and alias in each episode.  Red is so funny because his personality is very over the top.  And he never wears pants.   Also, his aliases contribute to the humor, such as Officer Pantsoffski, Baron Von Nein Leiderhosen, Mrs. Bare Derriere, Ben Panced, Ivan Panced, Dr. Laxslax, Professor Hineybottom, Irving J. Slacksoff, Geraldo Rearviewa, Rear Admiral Floyd, and so on.  I think you can notice a theme.

This show is fun to me just because of it’s insanity and its humor and its characters.  Cow and Chicken have a sweet dyanimic.  They don’t always get along, but no matter what, they will be there for each other, no matter what crazy situation they get in such as being held hostage by Head Hunters in Oregon, going to an amusement park that is dangerous for all guests, or performing a school play about Weenies.


Favorite Childhood Shows: Arthur

This post is part of a series, where I discuss my favorite shows from my child.

As a child, I watched a great many shows on TV.  I loved them because they spoke to me and allowed to, for at least 30 minutes, escape into another world full of interesting characters who do fascinating things.

One of those was the PBS series Arthur.

Arthur is based the series of books of the same name, and it focuses on the life of Arthur Read, an anthropomorphic aardvark, and his family and friends.  Each episode focuses on the daily lives of him and his friends as they go through various issues and learn important life lessons.

In the past couple of years or so, I began re-watching episodes of Arthur on YouTube, and I just fell in love with it all over again.

First, I love the humor of the show.  Very often there is chaos which provides a great moment for comedy.  Some characters have funny personalities too, such as D.W.’s bratty and annoying nature, Buster’s quirkiness and irresponsibility, among others.

Second, even though the show is targeted towards young children, it is mature enough to be accessible to people of all ages. (I am only referring to episodes of roughly the first half of the show’s run; I have not seen much of the second half of the show, and I have read that newer episodes are not as good as the older ones.  I have not seen them, so I cannot judge that for myself.)  The characters are articulate.  They communicate effectively.  The express themselves. Things are not dumbed down for the target audience. Perhaps because of this, the show has fans of all ages, and many of those have been watching every since they were children.

Third and finally, re-watching it as an adult brings new perspectives and allows one to see thing that they didn’t and couldn’t see before.  For example, I have found that occasionally, the characters are treated in unfair manners that could potentially serve to do nothing more than undermine the episode’s messages.  The episode “Arthur’s Big Hit” is often criticized by fans because it depicts Arthur hitting D.W. for destroying his mode airplane, and while he is punished, D.W. is not despite their parents saying she would be punished for what she did; Later, Arthur is hit by school bully/friend Binky and his parents respond by saying, “Now you know how D.W. felt when you hit her.”  I agree with others who feel that this conflict was not handled fairly and that they should have been both punished.  Also, the fact that his parents said  what they said, does seem to undermine the episode’s message of “hitting is wrong.”

On a lighter note, some things people can notice as an adult, are funny.  In  “Arthur and the  Square Dance,” the episode’s opening shows Arthur imaging being the owner of business at age 18.  He comes home from work to greet his young son and to find that he is married to Francine.  On YouTube, many people commented on how it was funny that the show is “depicting teen pregnancy.” In other words, since Arthur’s son was old enough to speak in full sentences, that means that he had sex with Francine around age 13.  Of course, this is a depiction of how young children view adulthood.  They may think that and 18-year-old can do everything that a 35-year-old can do.  Of course, very often, many people who are 18, are not as grown up as they think they are and/or need to be.

Despite any flaws, Arthur is still and enjoyable show, and I am forever a fan.

Use of Language in Desperate Housewives

This is another assignment for my Concept of Human Communication class.  We had to write about an episode of a TV show and talk about how the characters use language in various aspects such as gender/cultural contexts, wordplay, and so on.



Desperate Housewives is one of my favorite shows because of its interesting characters, intriguing storylines, and its combination of dark, over-the-top melodrama and high, almost campy comedy. For this assignment, I will discuss the use of language in the episode entitled “Mother Said.” The episode has several uses of language that serve the plot through comic effect and the creation of dramatic tension. The main plot of the episode is that everyone has various issues surrounding the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday.
Syntax is a very important part of the show’s comedy. In general, the characters use their words to make a point and sometimes in a clever way.
Several functions and purposes are fulfilled through language. Much of it is comedic. For example, Ellie, the tenant renting one of the rooms in the house owned by Gabrielle and her husband Carlos is actually a drug dealer, but claiming to be a tattoo artist. She walks her client downstairs. Gabrielle asks to see the “tattoo.” Ellie points out that the “tattoo” is “down south.” Gabrielle feels awkward, and the client soon leaves. That was all played for laughs.
With grammar, there does not seem to be a great variety. The grammar is largely and fairly proper, though it does not sound clinical, dry, and to quote someone I heard “like someone reading out of the dictionary.” The only uses of figurative and other non-standard language are the child of one of the characters saying “I call the computer,” and Susan’s mother-in-law Adele (who is a Southerner with a strong Southern accent) using the word “ain’t” and double negatives in her speech.
Semantics is used in a few notable scenes. For instance, Bree is arguing with her husband Orson, a dentist. He wants to take her grandson, Benjamin, whom she and him were raising as their own son before she kicked him out for running over her friend’s husband with a car, to a carnival. She remarks that she wouldn’t want Benjamin to be around while Orson is giving to Edie (a neighbor and a friend of Bree’s with whom he shared a brief, drunken kiss that they immediately regretted) dental exam with his tongue. This use of language is funny because it gives a new meaning to the term dental exam. Later, she tells him that if he wants to take someone to carnival, he should take Edie with him, because she can give him “three throws for a dollar,” an innuendo referring at once to a carnival game and a sexual act.
There is quite a lot of biased language in the episode. Much of it is due to the prejudices and conflicts that the characters have with each other. One example is when Susan’s Southerner mother-in-law refers to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression.” This indicates a bias against the North, and the view that some Southerners have that the Civil War is the fault of the Northerners. Another example of biased language is not said outright, but instead implied. Bree is angry with her friend Edie because Edie kissed Bree’s estranged husband Orson, though they immediately regretted it. Bree talks to one of Edie’s clients (Edie is a real estate agent). The woman and her husband are considering a house and Edie goes inside the house with the husband; Bree is walking buy and strikes up a conversation with the woman who is tending to her baby. The woman asks Bree if the neighborhood is safe, and Bree tells her that although the neighborhood is safe Edie is not; the implication is that Bree told the woman that Edie has reputation and penchant for being promiscuous and making romantic/sexual advances on other women’s boyfriends and husbands. The clients immediately end their business with Edie. Yet another example of bias comes when Adele is confronting Susan about the fact that Susan is not doing much to sustain the household. She makes references to Susan’s “drawings.” Susan has written and illustrated children’s books and claims that she makes money off of them but they apparently have not sold as well as they used to, not to mention the fact that Susan has not published any new ones in the past the few years. Adele asks how much children’s books pay, and Susan sheepishly searches for something in one of her lower cupboards. The scene illustrates how man mothers-in-law are biased against their daughters-in-law. Adele mocks Susan and belittles her good-faith attempts to be good wife to her son; apparently, she believes that that Susan is not quite good enough for him.
Context is always important with language. It tells one a lot about one’s beliefs, attitudes, situations in life, and so on. One example in this episode involves Lynette and her husband Tom and their conflict with Tom’s child from a previous relationship, Kayla (whose existence Tom was unaware of until about two year prior to the events of the episode). Kayla has been doing cruel things to the rest of their children, and showing no remorse for it. A therapist tells them the Kayla’s behavior is because she does not feel loved by Lynette; when asked by the therapist if she loves Kayla, Lynette admits that it is hard for her to love Kayla given how she entered their family. The therapist suggests that Lynette and Kayla forge a bond by spending as much time together as possible. Tom agrees with the advice. Lynette then asks the therapist to ask her if she loves Tom, in the situational context of her thinking that spending time with Kayla is a bad idea. This clearly illustrates Lynette’s contempt for her stepdaughter. She would much rather have as little to do as possible with Kayla, which given how she Kayla as treated her half-siblings is understandable. Another example of context involves Katherine’s interactions with her abusive ex-husband Wayne; this would be relational context. Wayne returned after many years to forge a relationship with their daughter Dylan. However, Katherine is concerned for Dylan’s safety and wants him to be far away from her. Wayne insists that he has changed. Katherine, using her wit and trying to call Wayne’s bluff says that Dylan is not Wayne’s daughter because she cheated on him. Katherine then goes on to say that she was afraid years ago of how he would react to the infidelity; with a smile on her face, Katherine tells him that she is longer afraid because Wayne has “changed.” Clearly, Katherine is being sarcastic about claiming that she believes that Wayne is now a good man. This was an attempt to get Wayne to leave her and Dylan’s life for good. Overall, the context of their conversation was about how despite years of having no contact with each other, Katherine knows that Wayne has not changed at all, and therefore, she mocks his false sentiments.
There is a fair bit of language styles differing based one’s social group. For example, Adele, Susan’s mother-in-law, as mentioned above is heavily influenced by her Southern American heritage. Her She seems to at first conform the stereotype of elderly Southern women being very warm and affectionate, which is evident when she meets Susan for the first time, hugs her, and compliments her appearance. She believes that the Civil War was instigated by the North and calls it “The War of Northern Aggression.” In addition, she also expresses her opinions of what a wife should be: “a maid in the living room, a chef in the kitchen, and a whore in the bedroom.” This speaks to Adele’s rather old-fashioned views, which are not necessarily uncommon in the Southern United States. Also, as mentioned above, to contrast, Susan is somewhat opposite in personality to Adele. She is more passive and quiet. She is also sensitive to Adele’s abrasive comments about her. Susan does try to defend herself against her mother-in-law’s criticisms, but Adele refuses to accept her daughter-in-law’s excuses and explanations.

Profile on the Character Miss Raine from Dance Academy and Her Skills as a Leader

This is another assignment from a class.  This is for my Concepts of Human Communication class.  For this assignment we had to profile a TV Character who is a leader, evaluate them and suggest how they could be better at what they do.





The show that I have chosen is Dance Academy.  It is an Australian teen drama television series that focuses on the students who attend a dance school in the city of Sydney called the National Academy of Dance.  A recurring figure of authority in the show is the character Ms. Lucinda Raine, a ballet teacher and later headmaster of the Academy.

Ms. Raine has two types of power: legitimate power and expert power.  Her legitimate power comes from her position as a ballet teacher.  She supervises the the young dancers in order to teach them the skills and techniques they will need to have any hope of becoming professional ballet dancers.  In the second season, she is promoted to headmaster of the Academy   She also has expert power.  She is also a ballet dancer (though the audience never sees her dancing), and therefore, she has plenty of experience and knowledge to train her students.

Ms. Raine is very no-nonsense and strict.  She demands that students follow her rules at all times otherwise, they may not be able to participate in class.  Many of her decision focus on the skills of the students.  One of the characters, Tara is not allowed to dance en pointe near the beginning of the show because her techniques are behind;  Ms. Raine promises to allow her to dance en pointe when she is skilled enough.  A similar case involves the character of Sammy.  At the beginning of the series, he is found to have weak ankles.  Ms. Raine puts him in pointe shoes until they strengthen.  Sammy is embarrassed as generally only female dancers, not male dancers, dance en pointe.

In addition to having special rules for certain students, Ms Raine expects all of her students to follow the rules.  In one episode she bans a student, Abigail from participating in class because Abigail was wearing a sweater over her ballet uniform.  Abigail was secretly embarrassed that her breasts were growing larger and so she was trying to hide them from view.  Abigail lies, saying that she has a cold, and  Ms. Raine gives Abigail a choice to either go to the school doctor or remove the sweater, since Ms Raine needs to be able to see Abigails body so that she can correct her movements.  Abigail returns to class, but refuses to remove the sweater and so Ms. Raine forces her to sit out in class.

Later on, in that same episode, Ms. Raine asks Tara to stand in front of the class, and Tara does so.  She then harshly admonishes Tara for her excessive make up.  (Tara put all that make up on the hide a pimple.)  She reminded the rest of the girls that, make up must be kept tasteful.  Tara tries to reason with Ms. Raine saying that she likes her make up the way it is, Ms. Raine refuses to accept any excuses.

Despite her harshness, Ms. Raine has done several things to support her students.  At the end of the semester, Tara learns that her family is having money troubles and that she will have to move back home. Tara is upset by the news, but she maturely decides to simply give up her dreams of becoming a principal dancer in a ballet company.  Tara tells Ms. Raine that she will leave the Academy because there are more important things to her than becoming a professional dancer.  Ms. Raine knows that Tara does not really want to abandon her dream, and so she awards Tara a scholarship for first-year students.

In the second season, Ms. Raine becomes headmaster of the Academy and becomes more involved in the students’ lives due to her increased role at the school.  Her demeanor changes from stern, harsh and emotionless to more kind, empathetic, and concerned.

While, Ms. Raine is often harsh in personality, she is generally ethical.  However, she has had some question moments.  In the aforementioned scene where she admonishes Tara in front of class for having on too much make up, she is harsh and calls her make up “hideous.”  That seemed like an insult to me.  Later on in a different episode, when Abigail and Sammy are dancing together in class and Sammy accidentally drops Abigail, she tells them to move to the back of the dance room, and says that she is sick of the sight of them.  Later on, Ms. Raine

blames their poor performance partly on Abigail saying that she is “sack of potatoes.”  Abigail blames her weight and eventually developed anorexia, though of course, Ms. Raine cannot be blamed for that?

Nonetheless, Ms. Raine does (deep down) care for her students, and truly wants them to succeed in life as professional dancers  Above all, she is trying instill the values of hard work and determination in her students.

For her class meetings, Ms. Raine demands concentration, organization, proper attire, and obedience.  Most importantly, she expects the students perfect their dancing techniques.  Often Ms. Raine is unwilling to listen to the thoughts of her students; not only that, she feels tries to instill harmony with the students.  She points out that the students have to learn to dance with with others because they are likely to end up working professionally with people they may not like, but will have to get along with in order to make sure they can put on a successful show together.

I think that Ms. Raine is a good character.   Despite her flaws, she is still a caring person, and she wants to help her students become successful as much as she can.

I would recommend that Ms. Raine not insult her students, but over the course of the show, she does improve and becomes much friendlier.



Twisted Reality Shows Show Analysis 2: The Taste

The Taste is a cooking competition reality show series.  It airs on ABC, and it is hosted and judged by Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Brian Malarkey.  The format involves the hosts holding blind auditions for candidates of each of their own teams.  The candidates make a dish.  The dish is then brought out to the hosts, who each try it.  They then decide if they want the chef behind the dish to be on their team.  If more than one host picks a candidate for their team, then the candidate picks which team to be on.  If the candidate is picked by none of the hosts, then they are sent home.

After each of the hosts picks four members each for their teams, the real competition begins.  There is also a similar format of blind competition.  The hosts will be given food prepared by their teams and people who are in their fellow hosts teams.  The competition is blind, and therefore, there is a huge risk of the judges potentially sending home a member of their own teams.

Several of the contestants reflect several archetypes.  One woman seems like the “person from a disadvantaged background determined to achieve greatness.” She was raised by a single mother; things were hard for her, but her mother instilled in her a love for cooking.  She considers going through the contest as a way of thanking her mother for all of her sacrifices and love.  Her mother is her inspiration.

Another contestant seemed very quirky.  She met with the judges wearing a tutu that was either pink or red in color (perhaps a combination of pink and red).  She was rejected by all of the judges, though her style of dress was, of course, unrelated; her food simply was not to their liking.

Another woman seemed like a “true artist.”  She says that whenever she cooks she tries to put everything of her being into the dish she is creating.

Within in the episodes that I saw there was no product placement.

The audience seems obvious.  This show is meant for people who have a love for food.  Perhaps they love eating it.  Perhaps they love cooking it.  But I think that it is clear that food lovers may want to at least consider the show.

Based on the episodes that I saw, I think that this is one of those reality shows that actually deserve to be called reality shows.  There is not much drama.  There is nothing that seems hard to believe.  I will give it a 9 out of 10.  If there is anything that is fake, it seems small and perhaps is only used to streamline the show without upsetting its essence.

Syllabus for Twisted Reality Shows Class

Just for laughs I am sharing the syllabus for my Twisted Reality Shows Class.



Governors State University CAS/LIBA/MCOM College of Arts and Sciences Division of Liberal Arts Media Communications
Fall 2013 Twisted Reality Shows MCOM-4070-03
Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m. August 27-December 8, 2013
Catalog Description As reality shows become a larger part of the overall entertainment market share, the question of what is “real” becomes increasingly more important. The nature of entertainment and of celebrity has been forever altered by the prevalence of reality shows on television.
While before, people became famous for doing things (such as actress Grace Kelly, who went on to marry Prince Rainer of Monaco) now they become famous simply for being famous (Kendra Wilkenson, Kate Gosselin, Paris Hilton). This major shift in culture has affected not only what we watch for enjoyment, but how we react to the world around us.
Audience People interested in better understanding the world of television reality shows. People studying or working in media. People interested in cultural changes.
Course Objectives
• Understanding the differences between types of reality shows.
• Interpreting how the new celebrity culture impacts our world views.
• Analyzing reality television shows to determine what is real, and what isn’t.
• Comparing/Contrasting reality shows and documentaries.
• Determining the overall impact reality shows have on the real world.
Expected Student Outcomes
• Discussions are designed to assist students in learning from each other.
• Written projects are designed for students to demonstrate their ability to apply what they learned in this class through a series of papers.
• Videos are presented to provide students with a broader understanding of the topics being presented.
• Thinking is expected of students as they reflect on class materials.
• Excellence is what is expected from students in this class. Excellence is defined as the ability students have to live out of their own best abilities and standards and not those of others. What is the most you can be or do to satisfy and delight yourself? This is excellence. This is different than perfection which only brings guilt and a sense of failure.
• Fun is not always frivolous, but always pleasurable. It makes people feel good. When students are enjoying themselves, generally more learning occurs. Laughter is encouraged.
Instructional Modality This class will primarily be focused on discussion. Watching reality television shows outside of class and providing insightful comments to the class will be required. The creation of a reality show “pitch” will be required.

Governors State University CAS/LIBA/MCOM College of Arts and Sciences Division of Liberal Arts Media Communications
Fall 2013 Twisted Reality Shows MCOM-4070-03
• Review of syllabus and class expectations Week 1 8-27-13
• What is reality television? Defining the genres and subcategories.
• Where did reality TV come from? Financial realities
Week 2 9-3-13
and the writers’ strike.
• Realty TV vs. Documentary TV
• The Real World and the birth of reality TV
Week 3 9-10-13
• Who is watching reality TV? Demographics.
• How much of reality is real?
• Reality show psychology
Week 4 9-17-13
• Reality TV archetypes
• Who’s that? Reality show celebrities
• Show me the money: What does reality TV pay? Week 5 9-24-13 Test on Weeks 1-4 Test on Weeks 1-4 Week 6 10-1-13 Love, Sex and Marriage Week 7 10-8-13 Family Dynamics Week 8 10-15-13 Reality TV and Kids Week 9 10-22-13 Voyeuristic TV
Week 10 10-29-13 Summing up relationship reality TV
Analysis Essay 1 Due Results will be discussed in class Week 11 11-5-13 Competition in Exotic Locales Week 12 11-12-13 Talent Contests/”Reality” Game Shows
Week 13 11-19-13 Summing up competitive reality TV
Analysis Essay 2 Due Results will be discussed in class Week 14 11-26-13 Good/Bad/Neutral: The effects of reality TV
Week 15 12-3-13 Pitch Presentation
Pitch paper and essay due Pitch presentations due
UNDERGRADUATE SCALE A 90-100 pts (90-100%) B 80-89 pts (80-89%) C 70-79 pts (70-79%) D 60-69 pts (60-69%) F 59 pts or less
GRADUATE SCALE A 92-100 pts (92-100%) B 83-91 pts (83-91%) C 74-82 pts (74-82%) D 65-73 pts (65-73%) F 64 pts or less

Governors State University CAS/LIBA/MCOM College of Arts and Sciences Division of Liberal Arts Media Communications
Fall 2013 Twisted Reality Shows MCOM-4070-03
Test (15 points) September 24 Multiple choice and essay test on information presented in Weeks 1-4
Show Analysis 1 (10 points) Due date: October 29 Watch a minimum of three episodes of a reality show NOT VIEWED IN CLASS from one of the following categories: Love, Sex and Marriage; Family; Kids and Reality TV; Voyeuristic TV and write a 1-2 page analysis of the show. Analysis should include:
• Show category
• Characters/archetypes
• Intended audience
• Product tie-ins
• Your opinion of the level of “reality” on a scale of 1-10 (10 being real, 1 being total fiction) and why
• You must include the episode titles and original air dates in your references
Be prepared to discuss your essay in class.
Show Analysis 2 (10 points) Due date: November 19 Watch a minimum of three episodes of a reality show NOT VIEWED IN CLASS from one of the following categories: Competition in Exotic Locales; Talent Contests; Game Shows and write a 1-2 page analysis of the show. Analysis should include:
• Show category
• Characters/archetypes
• Intended audience
• Product tie-ins
• Your opinion of the level of “reality” on a scale of 1-10 (10 being real, 1 being total fiction) and why
• You must include the episode titles and original air dates in your references
Be prepared to discuss your essay in class.
Reality Show Pitch: Final Project (35 points: 20 points essay; 15 points presentation) Due date: December 3 Write and present a “pitch” for a new reality show.
• Your pitch must detail the title, premise, types of characters/archetypes, intended audience, product tie- ins, recommended commercials, host (if applicable).
• You will “sell” the pitch to your classmates in a 5-7 minute presentation during our final class on November 27. PowerPoint is highly recommended, but is not required. Video is permitted.
• Write a 4-5 page essay to be handed in to the professor analyzing each category of the pitch and explaining your motivation and reasoning.
30 points possible for attendance and participation

Governors State University CAS/LIBA/MCOM College of Arts and Sciences Division of Liberal Arts Media Communications
Fall 2013 Twisted Reality Shows MCOM-4070-03
POLICIES Attendance Please note that because this class is discussion based, attendance and participation are extremely important. Each class is worth 2 points. If you do not attend, you will receive 0 points for that class session. Attendance without participation will earn you no more than 1 points for that class session. Participation is based on quality, not quantity.
If you are going to miss class or you have missed class, it is your responsibility to contact the professor or another student to find out what was viewed/discussed in class and to find a copy of any items viewed and watch them prior to the following class. It is also your responsibility to hand in any assignments that were due the class you missed (see LATE WORK).
Accepted reasons for excused absences (documentation needed for absence to be excused upon returning to class):
• Illness of student or your dependent (doctor’s note required)
• Death in family (obituary, Mass card or program required)
• Religious observance
• University sponsored absences (such as a field trip for another class or an internship interview)
Because attendance is so important, you are only allowed three (3) excused absences or two (2) unexcused absences before a letter grade reduction will take place. If you miss more than five (5) classes total, you will receive a failing grade for the course.
Tardiness Occasionally, life or work interferes and may cause you to be late to class. This is understandable. However, habitual tardiness is rude to the instructor and to your fellow students. If you have a regular scheduling problem because of your work/child care schedule, please speak to the professor.
Arriving in class later than 11:45 a.m. is unacceptable and you will not be admitted to enter class.
Late Work Late assignments will be penalized 10% of the total possible points per week late, and will not be accepted if they are more than two weeks late. If you are in attendance the day an assignment is due but do not hand in your assignment, the assignment is considered late as of the end of that class period. If you are absent the day an assignment is due, you are responsible for getting your assignment to the professor via email or through the departmental mail no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the next class meeting for the assignment to be counted as handed in on-time. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Cell Phones As a courtesy toward your fellow students and the professor, mute or turn off your cell phone. If you are expecting an emergency call, please inform the professor at the beginning of the class and promptly and quietly leave the classroom when your call comes, then return promptly and quietly.
Laptops Laptops are permitted for taking notes, however, the professor reserves the right to require that laptops be turned off and put away if she perceives they are being used for any other purpose.

Governors State University CAS/LIBA/MCOM College of Arts and Sciences Division of Liberal Arts Media Communications
Fall 2013 Twisted Reality Shows MCOM-4070-03
Children Students are responsible for finding child care if necessary. Children are not permitted in the classroom except in extreme/unusual circumstances. You must obtain the professor’s permission before bringing your child to class. Some topics, discussions and images in this course may not be suitable for children.
Disability Statement Students who have a disability or special needs and require accommodation in order to have equal access to the classroom, must register with the designated staff member in the Academic Resource Center. Please go to Room B1201 or call (708) 534-4090 and ask for the Coordinator of Disability Services. Students will be required to provide documentation of any disability when an accommodation is requested.
Academic Honesty Statement Students are expected to fulfill academic requirements in an ethical and honest manner. This expectation pertains to the following: use and acknowledgment of the ideas and work of others, submission of work to fulfill course requirements, sharing of work with other students, and appropriate behavior during examinations. These ethical considerations are not intended to discourage people from studying together or from engaging in group projects. The university policy on academic honesty appears in the catalog appendix, which can be found on the website at


Reality Show Analysis

One of the classes I am taking this semester is called Twisted Reality Shows.  I did not know it what it was about until I took the class; I don’t care for reality TV anymore, but I moved forward with the class because there was nothing to replace it.  I know lots of people think that reality TV (if it can be called reality…) is bad and possibly not worthy of academic study, but there is a lot of information that I found interesting, and we have lots of good discussions in class.  The class focuses on the whole phenomena of reality TV including where it came from, various categories, it’s effect on culture and how real or fake it actually is.

This is an assignment for the class we have to take a specific reality show from a certain category (love, sex, and marriage; families; children; voyeuristic;) and analyze them.

These are the instructions from the course syllabus:

Watch a minimum of three episodes of a reality show NOT VIEWED IN CLASS from one of the following categories:
Love, Sex and Marriage; Family; Kids and Reality TV; Voyeuristic TV and write a 1-2 page analysis of the show.
Analysis should include:
 Show category
 Characters/archetypes
 Intended audience
 Product tie-ins
 Your opinion of the level of “reality” on a scale of 1-10 (10 being real, 1 being total fiction) and why
 You must include the episode titles and original air dates in your references

My analysis is below.  Enjoy.  If you don’t like reality TV, don’t worry because soon I will have another blog post that you will probably like better.

For this analysis I will discuss one of my favorite shows from when I was in high school.  It is the MTV series Next.  It is in the category of “Love, sex, and marriage.”

Next has a certain format as follows.  A young adult aged 18-25 is set up on a date with five people also in that age range.  They are the dater and the five people are the candidates so to speak.  If they do not like the person they are dating, whether because of personality, appearance, talent, and so on, then they simply say the word “Next,” and they go on to dating the next person.  The rejected person is sent back to an RV called the “Next Bus,” and they are paid a dollar for each minute the date lasted.  If the subject likes the person they are dating, then they offer them the chance to go on another date or “take the money” they earned from the date “and run.”  If the candidate chooses to take the money, then the dater does not get the chance to date anyone else that they have not already dated.  Sometimes the dater will say “next” to everybody they are set up with, and they end up not having a date.

There are a variety of archetypes present to represent all types of men and woman.  Some men are “alpha males” and very assertive and arrogant.  Others are sensitive nice guys.  Some are nerds or geeks.  One young Asian man seemed to conform to a stereotype of Asian men being   One young man has a very “frat boy” personality and not necessarily the most respectful towards women.   Some women are “high maintenance” and expect any man they date to treat them like queens and to be “real men” who are masculine and conform to traditional male gender roles and stereotypes.  There are also young women who seem naïve and innocent because of their.  Several of them also seem to be “party girls.”  One young woman said that she went on a spring break vacation to Cancun, Mexico and acted rather “crazy.”

The show also has episodes with gay and lesbian situations.  Not surprisingly there are also gay and lesbian stereotypes depicted.  One of the gay men being set up with a contestant named Karl has flamboyant mannerisms and talks in a high-pitched voice sometimes called the “gay lisp.”

All of the episodes of Next that I watched were special spring break episodes.  To that end, it seems as though these episodes and the show in general were targeted towards students in college.  They are possibly also targeted towards the 18-25 age range, since only people aged 18-25 are ever seen in the show.  I think this show has the chance to relevant to young adults because nowadays young adults often date in non-traditional ways.  There is of course the Internet.  Also, many of dates are not necessarily traditional dates, where people watch a movie or go out to a nice restaurant.  Next often features unique activities, usually inspired the subject’s interests or career goals.  One episode featured a donkey ride between the date and her potential candidate.  Another interviewed her prospective dates because she plans to pursue a career as a talk show host; she wanted to see how compatible they are with her.  It seems like most people of this generation are interested finding a way to make romance interesting and are not necessarily into the formal way that past generations sought romantic partners.

An interesting question about reality shows is if they are actually being called by the right name or not.  In the case of Next, there are several scenes which are very suspect, and they seem highly unlikely to me.  At the end of each segment (each episode focuses on two separate segments with two separate individuals being set up on dates with five people), regardless of whether the dater rejects all five potential dates or manages to convince one of their dates to see them a second time, the remaining potential dates make a statement in unison which is often insulting to the dater (and his or her date if applicable).  That is clearly made up and rehearsed; they presumable decide to say something, or they are given something by the producers to say.  Other suspicious problems are that several of the things said sound scripted lines.  I am not necessarily talking the instances where the dater and the potential dates are introducing themselves; that has to be planned ahead of time.  One young woman is rejected because of her small breast.  She makes a pun about her breasts being small chicken cutlets.  I’m not a woman, but I would guess that if a woman were insulted and rejected because of small breasts she would not necessarily make a pun about them.  Or rather, it would not always come out of nowhere and seem clever at the same time.  One other occasion features a young man rejected for being a nerd.  He tells the young woman that she is going to miss out on his big penis.  He tells the other young men who were rejected or had not yet met the young woman that his penis is large and that she is missing out.  They insist he show it to them.  He stands up in front of them and does show them his penis, and they are very impressed; they respond by making  comments such “Get that thing off my foot,” and “You’re gonna tip the bus over .”  Honestly, most straight men would not want to see the penis of another man.  Yes, straight people are often curious about the bodies of people of their own sex; however, that seems to go away mostly after the onset of adulthood.  I doubt that most straight men would ask to see the penis of another man that he has not even known for a whole day; perhaps if they were close friends and had known each other for quite some time, I could see that, but I can’t really buy the situation as presented on the show.  In another episode a young woman and one of her candidates decides race on the beach with donkeys.  She rejects him because he rode the donkey too slowly.  That struck me as ridiculous.  I mean, riding donkeys or horses is not an inborn talent.  One has to learn how to do it.  It just seems so implausible to reject a person for that.  Maybe she just wanted to make an excuse to get rid of him and simply was not attracted to him.  However, plenty of other contestants on the show honestly and bluntly rejected candidates for being physically unattractive.

Because of all of the issues I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I will rate the level of reality as a five.  The basic situations are real.  However, many of the specifics are either scripted or staged.


           Karl and Lindsay [Television series episode]. (2007). In Miller, K. (Executive Producer), Next. MTV. Retrieved from

Jessica and Lorenzo [Television series episode]. (2007). In Miller, K. (Executive Producer), Next. MTV. Retrieved from

Zack and Tiffanie [Television series episode]. (2007). In Miller, K. (Executive Producer), Next. MTV. Retrieved from

TV Tropes: Alpha B***h

A while ago I talked about the website TV Tropes and how much I like using it.  I also said that I would talk about my favorite tropes from time to time.  For this post I will do just that.  I will discuss the trope known as “Alpha B***h.”  This trope is a character type.  It refers to school girl who is the most popular girl in school and who is mean to those who are unpopular.  She does things like insulting people she considered lame or unfashionable.  She will also spread rumors to assert her social status.  Occasionally an example this character archetype may not be as bad a person as she might seem; she is then known as the “Lovable Alpha B***h.”

Examples of the Alpha B***h include:

Libby from the 1990s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who was an antagonist of the title character.  She was originally the namesake for this trope; however, the trope was renamed because she was neither the most well-known or first example of the trope and made her last appearance on the show approximately midway through its run.

Kate Sanders from the early 2000s Disney Channel Series Lizzie McGuire.

Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl.

Courtney Gripling from the Nickelodeon Nicktoon As Told by Ginger was the more lovable type of this character and was generally kind to the title character.

Glee has the characters of Quinn Fabray and Santana Lopez.  A rare male example is the character Sebastian Smythe on that same show; it should be noted that the male equivalent of this trope (male equivalents of female tropes are spear counterparts and female equivalents of male tropes are called distaff counterparts) is called the Jerk Jock and usually bullies his victims by using physical dominance rather than resorting to insults, humiliation, malicious rumors, and the like.  Sebastian Smythe bullied in a social and emotional manner rather than physically most of the time.

Mean Girls.  Need I say more?