Reality TV

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Reality television is the most harmful genre in the history of moving pictures.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s “How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success” (New Yorker, 2019-01-07) is a fine essay on the subject. It follows the genre from its inception in Sweden, where state television aired the fascistic Expedition: Robinson (1997) after the first person “voted off the island” committed suicide. Mark Burnett brought the concept to the US and then remade it for the “urban jungle” in The Apprentice (2004), a show that transformed the public image of its host. Through stagecraft and heavy editing, the buffoon was portrayed as a slick mastermind. This dishonesty was masked by the greater lie that reality TV showed reality.

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