Reality Bites Back is a very thick book. There are millions and millions of hours of reality TV and different types of reality TV, and so this book needs to be thick to accomplish its goal. In part, I think it does, but in other aspects, it doesn’t.
If I had titled this book, it would’ve been Unscripted Women Bite Back: Age Old Views in Reality TV or something of the sort. Most of the book focuses on women, which is probably the author’s strong point, but I think that made this book weak. Gender does not exist in a vacuum, and we know that more than one gender exists. Degrading women doesn’t just hurt women. It also hurts men, and reality TV shows men in a negative light. The book only contains a few paragraphs about men, but I feel like it would’ve been a stronger argument if a whole chapter or more was dedicated to how men are falsely represented on TV.
The themes go in between women, minorities, and LGBTQ (I’m sorry if I missed a group). It’s great that the author has lots of material, but all of it gets mashed into a big jumble and it’s hard to dissect apart. I think the author had good intentions of separating topics by chapters, but then topics blended into each, and women issues ended up in chapters about LGBTQ. Those issues are probably connected, but it would’ve been nice if she created a few borders between them so that the topics were more understandable. I thought that maybe the author could’ve divided it by TV shows, but then lots of TV shows share similar themes, so that wouldn’t have worked either. Honestly, there are just too many themes and topics to discuss about reality TV, and not all of them can fit into a book. It might’ve been better if she wrote multiple books on reality TV, each focusing on a different theme or different type of reality TV.
The chapter at the end of the book is fun and thought provoking. She encourages you to keep watching your favorite reality TV shows, but to speak up, make fun of, or analyze what’s going on as you watch the show. I wanted to try her ideas and attempted to watch The Kardashian Show…but I failed miserable. That show really bored me, so maybe I’ll try another one later.
I feel like this book just scraps the top of reality TV, like taking the sugar off the top of homemade jelly. If you really want to experience the jelly, you have to take some of the sugar with the jelly underneath, bit by bit at a time. That’s not something this book does. The book’s argument just goes on and on, which can leave you mentally exhausted. While reading this, I wanted to take a step back and just think about a point Pozner made and digest it. I also wanted to find out more information and read more sources about the topic before moving on.
Basically, if you’re interested in TV and cultural views, then I’d recommend this book, but I’d also recommend you read something else. It’s a good book to have in your repertoire to get an idea of reality TV, but I don’t think it should be the one-all and be-all book that you read. Another way to put it is if you were writing an essay on Reality TV, I’d suggest you read this book to get an idea of what to write about and basic knowledge, but don’t quote it as a source when you get into the deeper details of your paper (unless you’re actually using it to make your point, of course).
As a side note, I don’t watch reality TV unless my mom is watching. Every time she watches it, I don’t see what’s so great or attractive about watching other people’s lives. That’s just weird to me and makes me feel like an awkward peeper…