Reality Television Essay

In this analysis I intend to examine CBS’s program The Amazing Race using the literature Global TV Realities by John McMurria, Televisions New Engines by Michael Keane and Albert Moran, and The Mass Production of Celebrity by Graeme Turner as instruments to analyze the program. The three readings assist in the analysis of CBS’s The Amazing Race because the concepts and arguments presented by the authors within the readings offers insight into the production of The Amazing Race as well as the global distribution of The Amazing Race television format.

In the first segment of this analysis I will provide a description of The Amazing Race as well as general information about the program. In the following paragraphs of the analysis I will address each piece of literature individually and discuss there connections to CBS’s The Amazing Race beginning with McMurria’s piece and finishing with Turner’s piece. The Amazing Race aired in the United States in 2001 on the major television network CBS and is currently on its 21st season.

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Since it aired the program has proven to be extremely popular in the United States earning thirteen Prime Time Emmy Awards and has also gained significant popularity on a global platform. The Amazing Race is a reality television game show that features teams of two competing against each other in a race around the world. Typically, each season of The Amazing Race features eleven teams of two, each team having a preexisting relationship such as parents and their child Anderson 2 and/or couples.

The race beings at a designated starting location somewhere around the globe and from that location each team competes against each other to complete the multiple legs of the race and reach each checkpoint in the least amount of time. The location of the starting point as well as the checkpoints varies in each season of the program. For each team to complete each leg of the race around the world they must first complete two or more tasks before receiving the information and documents needed to travel to the subsequent location.

Each team competing in the race travels to the various checkpoint locations around the world using many modes of transportation such as hot-air balloons, airplanes, boats, and trains. As the teams complete the required tasks and finish each leg of the race the teams with the worst completion times are progressively eliminated and the teams with the best completion times at each checkpoint are awarded prizes. The teams progress through the checkpoints until only three teams are left.

Once eight of the eleven total teams are eliminated, the three remaining teams race to the final checkpoint where the grand prize is awarded. The literature Global Television Realities by John McMurria discusses television formats and the manner in which television conglomerates distribute these formats globally. Television format is described as the overall concept, premise and branding of a copyrighted television program (Wikipedia). Television formats such as that of The Amazing Race are commodities that are produced and distributed in the global market in the same manner as any other good or service.

As discussed in the literature the global formatting business is very lucrative. According to McMurria “One study found that the global format business was worth $2. 4 billion in 2004” (McMurria, Pg. 184). Anderson 3 A major themes illustrated within the reading is the differences between the global television format markets. McMurria emphasizes throughout the reading that the price in which television format are sold as well as the projected popularity of a program varies greatly depending on the international market in which it is sold.

Due to the difference in price in the various international markets a majority of television formats are made for wealthier industrialized markets such as the United States because “Exports to the United States and Europe are most valuable as format prices are 10 to 40 times higher there than in regional Asian markets” (McMurria, Pg. 186). As a result of television formats being produced largely for the wealthier industrialized markets program formats frequently require manipulation to adapt to the cultural values of the smaller markets and gain the same popularity as the larger markets.

This piece of literature is very applicable to The Amazing Race because the program has been a global success and currently has twelve international versions of the show worldwide. The international version of The Amazing Race include Asia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Israel, Latin America, Norway, Philippines, Ukraine and Vietnam. The Amazing Race rapidly gained popularity on a world platform because the program is a game show format.

Due to The Amazing Race being a simple game show format the international versions of the program required no manipulation to adapt to the cultural values of the various locations and because of this the international versions closely resembled the US version and gained similar popularity to that of the US version in these locations. The ability of the international formats of The Amazing Race to Anderson 4 maintain close resemblance to the programs original version has increased its success globally. The literature Televisions New Engines by Michael Keane and Albert Moran discusses the globalization of television formats.

In Keane and Moran essay they address the reproduction and replication of television formats, concepts and programs in the various television markets around the world. The authors emphasize that as time progresses modern television around the world is becoming more similar because “recycling successful TV program ideas takes much of the guesswork out of local television production in many lower cost genres” (Keane & Moran, 2008). Internationalization of television formats is frequently done through franchising which allow producers to sell the right to popular television programs to other nations around the world.

Purchasing popular television formats is advantageous for television production companies or broadcasters because these programs have proven to be successful in other regions of the world. A major theme illustrated within the essay that best applies to The Amazing Race is the internationalization of television formats. Keane and Moran discuss in their essay how internationalization of television formats is the key to success because programs that are internationalized are easily adapted to the various regions around the world as well as equally successful in all of those regions.

This portion Keane and Moran’s essay especially applicable to the program The Amazing Race because the shows format is very internationalized and easily adapted to ensure equal success in all regions of the world. This is the key aspect about The Amazing Race that allows the program to be increasingly successful on a global platform because the format Anderson 5 of the show does not need to be changed to adapt to any areas of the world. This recycling of The Amazing Race across nations makes the program extremely attractive to producers because the show has been tested time and time again and has proven to be a successful investment.

The Amazing Race is currently in twelve countries around the globe and as long as international consumers desire television game shows like The Amazing Race the program will continue to be reproduced and duplicated worldwide. The literature The Mass Production of Celebrity by Graeme Turner discusses how the wide spread popularity of reality television has shifted modern day celebrities from elite to ordinary. In the essay Turner argues that the massive influx of reality television programs on television has produced celebrities that have no distinct and elite talents or skill sets and are simply a celebrity because of their “Ordinariness”.

In the essay turner emphasizes that celebrities of the past were elite and had rare talents that made them famous however the introduction of reality television has shifted the modern celebrity to be much more ordinary and less sophisticated. In the essay Turner also mentions the term “the demotic turn” which he describes as “the increasing visibility of the ‘ordinary person’ as they turn themselves into media content through celebrity culture, reality TV, DIY websites, talk radio and the like” (Turner, 2006).

Turner argues that these ordinary celebrities that are a product of reality television shows and have no elite talents attempt to turn themselves into celebrities after their initial exposure on television by making themselves play a particular part. Turners essay is very applicable to The Amazing Race because it is extremely evident when watching the program that the producers use ordinary couples as the competing teams and choose these couples based on the Anderson 6 stereotype they desire on the show.

Each season of The Amazing Race Typically features teams that represent multiple races and fit specific stereotypes that will be entertaining to watch compete against each other and represent each group of the audience. An interesting aspect about The Amazing Race is the show does not produce celebrities at a rate that other reality programs produce them because besides a few reoccurring teams on the program the rest of the teams are new each season. As a result of The Amazing Race being a game show and cycling through new teams each season the contestants have nly a short window to attempt to produce their own celebrity and because of this the teams that are not invited back for subsequent seasons are quickly replaced and pushed out of the spot light. In conclusion using Global TV Realities by John McMurria, Televisions New Engines by Michael Keane and Albert Moran, and The Mass Production of Celebrity by Graeme Turner as instruments to analyze CBS’s popular program The Amazing Race proved to be very beneficial because it encouraged me to observe the program and think critically from an unfamiliar angle.

Over the course of my analysis the essays were most beneficial in helping me understand the international distribution of programs such as The Amazing Race. One of the most fascinating aspects about the program The Amazing Race is how successful the program format has been on a global platform and the first two essays illustrated the aspects of the program that made it such an internationalized television game show format.

If McMurria, Turner, Keane and Moran had the opportunity to view The Amazing Race would be extremely impressed with the programs Anderson 7 global popularity and would agree that it is an excellent example of the arguments presented in their essays. The Amazing Race was a fascinating program to analyze because it has been extremely popular in every location it has be reproduced and is one of the top television formats in the global market.