11 episodes

Reality TV is dismissed as guilty pleasure, low brow... even trash. But whether you want to admit it or not, you probably have heard of Snooki, Lisa Vanderpump or Kim Kardashian. Over the past 30 years, reality TV has become a place to see the social and political moment play out in real time -- from racial tensions on The Real World New York to gender dynamics on The Bachelor. On this season, join host Mariah Smith as she dissects the history of the genre one show at a time, revealing how it's shaped our culture and how our culture shaped it.

Spectacle: An Unscripted History of Reality T‪V‬ Neon Hum Media

    • Documentary

Reality TV is dismissed as guilty pleasure, low brow... even trash. But whether you want to admit it or not, you probably have heard of Snooki, Lisa Vanderpump or Kim Kardashian. Over the past 30 years, reality TV has become a place to see the social and political moment play out in real time -- from racial tensions on The Real World New York to gender dynamics on The Bachelor. On this season, join host Mariah Smith as she dissects the history of the genre one show at a time, revealing how it's shaped our culture and how our culture shaped it.

    E10: The Circle & the future of reality TV

    E10: The Circle & the future of reality TV

    In 2021, it’s not enough to just become famous. To really capitalize on your 15 minutes, you need to tell a story and be authentic. The Circle perfectly captures this shift. It’s like the Real World but ...dystopian? Host Mariah Smith talks to S1 US cast member Chris Sapphire and journalist Etan Smallman about how the show demonstrates we can form real connections -- even through a screen. She also brings back scholar Racquel Gates and her producer Joanna Clay to discuss where reality TV is headed.
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    • 37 min
    E9: The subversive sweetness of the Great British Baking Show

    E9: The subversive sweetness of the Great British Baking Show

    All the winner of the Great British Baking Show gets is a cake stand. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a nail biter. In fact, we argue it’s one of the most anxiety-producing shows on TV and that it subverts the competition show paradigm. The Great British Baking Show doesn't need villains, a cash prize or crazy stakes. It's ...nice? Host Mariah Smith talks to 2019 winner David Atherton, journalist Scott Bryan and scholar Elizabeth Nathanson about how kinder, more earnest television can be just as captivating as its cutthroat counterparts.
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    • 32 min
    E8: 90 Day Fiance, the delusion of love

    E8: 90 Day Fiance, the delusion of love

    90 Day Fiancé is the trainwreck TV show we can’t stop watching. The secret sauce could be the romance. The tricky tropes. The desperation. I think it's desperation, actually. In this episode, we’re going to get into why 90 Days is so compelling as a social experiment. What do these chaotic relationships teach us? And what does the backdrop of the K1 visa process say about the immigrant stories we tell? Join host Mariah Smith as she dissects the franchise with comedians Marcy Jarreau and Nicole Byer and journalists Alexis Soloski and Shamira Ibrahim.
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    • 47 min
    E7: Queer Eye, a master class in male vulnerability

    E7: Queer Eye, a master class in male vulnerability

    Queer Eye for The Straight Guy was an instant hit in 2003. Oprah, Jay Leno, even President George W. Bush were talking about the Fab Five. They were promoted as gay superheroes, who came in and made over a straight man’s life – but we never really got to know them. The Netflix reboot, out in 2018, changed all that. Today's Fab Five shares their struggles and opt for “make better” over “makeover.” In his episode, host Mariah Smith talks to OG culture guy Jai Rodriguez, interior design guy Bobby Berk and superfan Tobin Low.
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    • 42 min
    E6: Keeping up with the Kardashian empire

    E6: Keeping up with the Kardashian empire

    From Kim’s sex tape scandal to Kourtney pulling her baby out during labor, to the scary Paris robbery -- the Kardashian sisters have shared it all over the past 20 seasons. That’s what this episode is all about. How Keeping Up with the Kardashians created TMI television. Nothing is off limits. This week, host Mariah Smith talks to New York Times writer-at-large Amy Chozick and KUWTK expert Professor Laurie Ouellette.
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    • 32 min
    E5: Behind the gates with the ‘Real’ housewives

    E5: Behind the gates with the ‘Real’ housewives

    It's easy to get distracted by the glamorous trappings of the Real Housewives. The fancy cars, the McMansions, the Botox. But the franchise remains compelling because the women share what they are going through from evictions, postpartum depression and run-ins with the law. They’re real women with real problems -- that they allow the whole world to see. No two iterations are alike, but there’s something for everyone in the 10 Housewives shows from Orange County and Atlanta to New York and Potomac. In this episode, Mariah Smith talks to Housewives Historian Brian Moylan, reality TV scholar Racquel Gates and former RHOC cast member Peggy Tanous.
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    • 34 min

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