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"Below The Yellow Line": Competitor Discourse on NBC's "The Biggest Losrer"
Unformatted Document Text:  3 races, genders, sexual orientations and political/religious values. In doing so, the show illuminated a very important aspect for reality TV success: conflict. It soon became evident that watching wasn’t enough, ratings demanded more outrageous behavior. The 1990s ushered in the development of computer-based non-linear editing which enabled quick editing of hours of footage into a usable format. Film, an expensive format, gave way to much cheaper video/computer editing, a change which also allowed greater manipulation of show footage. Reality TV reached its mass-market appeal in the summer of 2000 with the premieres of Big Brother and Survivor; both shows brought reality TV to one of the “Big 3” networks, CBS. The success of these shows shifted the reality genre again, integrating both isolation and competition, with the inevitable additional result of interpersonal conflict. While the success of Big Brother and Survivor were impressive, the 2002 premier of American Idol on the FOX network was a game-changer. The show became a juggernaut and one of the most popular TV shows in American history as well as being the most watched program for six consecutive seasons. Even rival TV executives have called it, “the most impactful show in the history of television” (The New York Times, 2008) American Idol gave rise to more competition-reality hybrid shows such as The Amazing Race, America’s Next Top Model, Dancing WithThe Stars and The Apprentice. The financial success of these shows has created an inevitability in programming as explained by Mike Darnell, head of reality TV for Fox, when discussing programming for other networks (NBC, CBS and ABC), “might as well plan three or four [reality shows] each season because we’re going to have them anyway” (USA Today, 2007). In the ultimate validation of Darnell’s comment, the TV industry has capitulated to the effect of reality TV and its legitimacy as a cultural entertainment source. In 2001, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences added the reality genre to the Emmy Awards with the category of Outstanding Reality

Authors: Dunning, Eric., Alsip, Mary Katherine. and Bissell, Kim.
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races, genders, sexual orientations and political/religious values. In doing so, the show 
illuminated a very important aspect for reality TV success: conflict. It soon became evident that 
watching wasn’t enough, ratings demanded more outrageous behavior. The 1990s ushered in the 
development of computer-based non-linear editing which enabled quick editing of hours of 
footage into a usable format. Film, an expensive format, gave way to much cheaper 
video/computer editing, a change which also allowed greater manipulation of show footage.  
Reality TV reached its mass-market appeal in the summer of 2000 with the premieres of 
Big Brother and Survivor; both shows brought reality TV to one of the “Big 3” networks, CBS. 
The success of these shows shifted the reality genre again, integrating both isolation and 
competition, with the inevitable additional result of interpersonal conflict. While the success of 
Big Brother and Survivor were impressive, the 2002 premier of American Idol on the FOX 
network was a game-changer. The show became a juggernaut and one of the most popular TV 
shows in American history as well as being the most watched program for six consecutive 
seasons. Even rival TV executives have called it, “the most impactful show in the history of 
television”  (The New York Times, 2008) American Idol gave rise to more competition-reality 
hybrid shows such as The Amazing RaceAmerica’s Next Top ModelDancing WithThe Stars and 
The Apprentice. The financial success of these shows has created an inevitability in programming 
as explained by Mike Darnell, head of reality TV for Fox, when discussing programming for 
other networks (NBC, CBS and ABC), “might as well plan three or four [reality shows] each 
season because we’re going to have them anyway” (USA Today, 2007). In the ultimate validation 
of Darnell’s comment, the TV industry has capitulated to the effect of reality TV and its 
legitimacy as a cultural entertainment source. In 2001, the Academy of Television Arts and 
Sciences added the reality genre to the Emmy Awards with the category of Outstanding Reality 


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