Big Brother pp 88-116 | Cite as


  • Jonathan Bignell


This chapter discusses performance, and especially the critical concept of identity as a performance, in the context of Reality TV. Historically, television fiction has been the ultimate realization of the original aims of Naturalist theatre. That nineteenth and twentieth-century form consisted of various kinds of drama in a small enclosed room and showed a small group of characters living out their private experience in distinction to a larger public world but in relation to the pressures and tensions of an unseen public space. This chapter discusses how these issues of space and private identity that have been central to television drama are modulated by their similar and different appearance in Reality TV. Television drama offers a portrait of individuals and promises a kind of individual and often psychological as well as social revelation about them. The offer of drama to its audience is therefore the opportunity for insight into inner desires and the concomitant assumption that each person’s experience is centred on individual identity and personal relationships that are both constitutive and open to modification. The arguments about the revelation of the self that have already been introduced in this book are discussed in their derivations from dramatic television programming and tested against the related concerns of Reality TV.


Television Drama Soap Opera Private Experience Cruise Liner Video Diary 
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© Jonathan Bignell 2005

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  • Jonathan Bignell

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