For Our Consideration: UnREAL, I Am Cait, and accidental authenticity in reality TV

“That felt pretty real to me.”

“That’s the thing with you, Adam; it feels pretty real with everyone.”

Adam and Rachel in UnREAL

By now, the formulas that lurk behind “reality television” are well known: the obvious ADR, the carefully crafted conflicts, the markedly high correlation of competitive-reality contestants, and the determination to not acquire friends. But if the formula was totally predictable, reality TV wouldn’t have the ongoing audience reach that it...

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