Reality TV shows have been popular on American TV for about two decades. The 1990s were a decade of high pay for actors. For example, NBC offered Jerry Seinfeld $110 million to make one more season of Seinfeld in 1998-1999, on top of the one million dollars per episode for the three supporting actors, or a total of $176 million to the four stars. Not surprisingly, the television industry then turned toward shows that would feature amateur talent who could be motivated by a grand prize of one … million … dollars!
That leads to the question of whether there are any feminist reality TV shows? We have lots of feminist unreality TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale. But, while I can’t say that I’ve watched all the reality TV, not many of them seem terribly in sync with feminist demands. Certainly, reality TV likes pushy female characters like Omarosa on Trump’s The Apprentice. But still …
It’s easy to imagine reality TV shows that would put prized feminist theories to the test. For example, reproduce the Marines’ Infantry Officer Course for a dozen women contestants with a one million dollar prize for whoever gets the furthest. Audiences like competitions, they like fit young women, and they like the Marines.
But for some reason we never get any of these.