The time-use diary was very useful in analysing the way in which I use TV and I was quite surprised by the results. While I tend to pride myself on my good taste of quality TV shows, I found that I watched what I deem to be lesser quality shows more often. I would often only watch what I deem to be quality TV (complex narrative) alone as my family all have different tastes in TV shows.
The shows I watched more often included The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Have You Been Paying Attention, and Gogglebox. When watching these shows I tend to second screen more often and pay less attention to when I watch drama and complex narrative shows, like True Detective. These shows are free-to-air and in the reality TV show genre, and I usually watch them with my mum and my dad, as my brother despises watching them. During the broadcasting of these shows, I don’t always pay full attention, and will often do chores, uni homework, and use my phone. “Television is employed as an environmental resource in order to create a constant background noise which moves to the foreground when individuals or groups desire” (Lull 1980, pg. 201-202). I tend to only pay the most attention to the shows when aspects or personalities I like to watch are on, for example; on The Bachelor, I thought Sarah and Ebru were entertaining so I would pay more attention to their screen time compared to Heather and Lana who I found to be annoying. While I pay more attention to shows like Gogglebox & Have You Been Paying Attention, I pay the most attention to Anastasia and Sam Pang respectively as once I again, I find them to be the most entertaining from their shows. This is also the case with Family Feud, as if I deem a family ‘dumb’ because they give Grant the worst answers, I will tune out, compared to if I find a family to be ‘smart’ or just entertaining then I will tune in more.
Second screening became a habitual part of watching The Bachelor for me as I would often read radio host Dan Dabuf’s live tweets in the ad breaks and share them with my mum and dad. Towards the end of the season, a friend and I were at a mutual friend’s house and as a group we watched the show. As a result, our friend who had never watched the show previously became hooked and we started a group inbox on Facebook which we would live message each other through. As a group, if one of us couldn’t tune into the show, we would rely on the others to live message us what was happening. “Media technologies have become ubiquitous, mobile and scalable, generating new possibilities for social interaction in which information flows are increasingly able to act on and shape social activities as they occur” (McQuire 2008, pg. 146). This also included sending each other copious amounts of memes making fun of Sam (The Bachelor) and the girls, making fun of Snezana’s promise ring, etc. I also began reading host Osher’s tweets as well during The Bachelorette, the highlight of which was when David (the international model) was evicted from the show.
Watching Have You Been Paying Attention religiously was quite interesting for me, as when it first started I wrote it off as lasting only two or three episodes, but I was wrong. As it is a quiz-comedy show hybrid, a lot of the answers the comedian contestants provide are jokes rather than actual guesses, resulting in it being funny. It has become routine for my family and I to watch it during its broadcast on Monday nights. The personalities and running gag between Sam Pang and Tom Gleisner provides the audience with a lot of laughs. The intertextuality and mocking of their station’s shows provide humour, particularly for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. This makes the show more entertaining for my family and I, as we watch all of these shows and will often guess which aspects will be highlighted on HYBPA. “Television and other mass media… can now be seen to play central roles in the methods which families and other social units employ to interact normatively” (Lull 1980, pg. 198). It creates a dialogue between my mum, dad, and I about the comments the comedians make about the shows we watch, making it more enjoyable to watch, as we tend to mock aspects of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette while we watch it.
The Bachelorette on Have You Been Paying Attention
I discovered that I used TV as background noise to doing other activities and used it in a far more social way than I expected, using it to create dialogue between my family and friends.
Lull, J 1980, ‘The Social Uses of Television’, Human Communication Research, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 197-209, viewed 26 October 2015, Wiley Online Library Database.
McQuire, S 2008, Media City: Media, Architecture and Urban Spaces, SAGE Publications, London, viewed 26 October 2015, EBL Ebook Library Database.
Quality television is difficult to define as it is subjective, however television scholars have theorised which elements define quality TV. Netflix’s original television show House of Cards demonstrates the characteristics often used to describe a quality TV show. The show follows majority house whip Frank Underwood’s plight for vengeance against the politicians who wronged him and his manipulative plan to gain power. The political drama stars Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and notable film actors Robin Wright and Kate Mara, and is produced by acclaimed film director David Fincher.
The show is an American remake of the BBC drama of the same name, supporting its sense of quality. The BBC attracts viewers of higher wealth who are interested in societal and political issues. Netflix’s wish to attract viewers of a similar calibre can be seen with their acquiring of the rights to the show. “To the US television industry… the term quality describes the demographics of the audience. Delivering a quality audience means delivering whatever demographic advertisers seek, or in the case of premium cable, attracting an audience with enough disposable income to pay extra for TV” (McCabe & Akass 2007, pg. 147). The political drama genre appeals to upper-middle class viewers with a disposable income that Netflix is interested in attracting to subscribe to their streaming service (Stanley 2014).
Season 1 Trailer for House of Cards
Netflix bid out HBO to gain the rights to the show, demonstrating its wish to become known as the home of quality entertainment, which HBO is synonymous with (Hass 2013). Chief content officer Ted Sarandos states Netflix’s goal is to “become HBO faster than they can become us” (Hass 2013), producing high quality TV programs that can compete with the cable station. House of Cards does have elements that are found in many of the shows produced by HBO and have become synonymous with quality TV. These elements include adult themes, depiction of nudity, sex, drug & alcohol use, manipulative anti-hero characters, and serious themes (McCabe & Akass 2007).
Thompson (cited in McCabe &Akass 2007, pg. 8) argues that “quality (drama) has become a genre in itself, complete with its own set of formulaic characteristics.” While these characteristics differentiate between nations, American quality TV is often defined by its high production value, esteemed actors, visual style created through innovative camerawork and editing, serious themes, and reflect contemporary society (McCabe & Akass 2007). High production value is often associated with large budgets, with Netflix paying $100 million to produce the first two seasons of House of Cards (Hass 2013). The critically acclaimed actors, directors and producers support its perception of being a quality TV show. The shows brutally honest insight into the inner workings of the White House reflect the belief commonly shared by the American public that politicians are only interested in their own personal gain, rather than the common good of the country (Stanley 2014).
Quality TV has become synonymous with complex narratives, as demonstrated by House of Cards. “This model of television storytelling is distinct for its use of narrative complexity as an alternative to the conventional episodic and serial forms that typified most American television” (Mittell 2006, pg. 29). This style of narrative differs from episodic television as episodes are not self-contained, however, complex narrative is serialised with long-form storylines (Mittell 2012). Serial narratives are more character-driven, delving into their psychological states as the audience must enjoy watching the characters in order to be kept intrigued by the slow-progressing storylines (Mittell 2010). This can be demonstrated in House of Cards as the audience is given an insight into Frank’s psyche and his plan to gain control of the White House is a long campaign, taking the first season until he is appointed Vice President. The audience is also given further insight into Frank’s psyche with his breaking of the fourth wall and speaking directly to the camera about who he encounters and how he will manipulate them.
The first season of House of Cards was praised highly by critics and fans alike, with the subsequent seasons also gaining high praise. The ultimate reward for cementing a show’s quality status is that of award nominations and wins. The show became Netflix’ first original program to win an Emmy, and has won a total of three Emmys and 2 Golden Globes (Dodes 2014). The critical acclaim, awards, and positive fan reception of House of Cards has resulted in an increase of Netflix subscribers, with Netflix gaining 2.3 million more subscribers as a result of its streaming of the first season (Dodes 2014).
House of Cards’ complex narrative, long-form storylines, character-driven narrative, adult themes and appeal to a wealthier demographic makes it a quality Netflix original production.
Dodes, R 2014, ‘The Most Devious Man in D.C.; Kevin Spacey Discusses ‘House of Cards’, TV’s Business Model and Today’s Washington’, Wall Street Journal, 30 January, viewed 15 October 2015, ProQuest Central Database.
The authenticity of reality TV has been questioned since its origins. Reality TV is a large genre of TV programs representing real people and often treading the line between documentary and drama (Hill 2005). While audiences have become more media literate and watch reality TV despite acknowledging its dramatised and sometimes even scripted nature, reality TV still remains highly popular. “One of the pleasures offered by the new reality formats is the knowledge that what is being offered for consumption is manifestly ‘staged reality'” (Kilborn cited in Hill 2005, pg. 175). The constructed nature of reality TV is not as obvious in the reality show Gogglebox, but is still present.
The original UK reality show Gogglebox was first produced in Australia by Channel 10 in early 2015, and is currently airing its second season. The show revolves around watching average Australians reactions to watching certain TV shows which have aired the previous week. The show depicts different Australian families; a gay couple, an elderly wealthy couple, a middle-aged ‘ocker’ couple, a large family, a family with adult children, a family with two teenage daughters, an Indian family, two European female friends, two male Aussie friends, and two Aussie female friends.
Gogglebox Australia Season 1 Trailer.
Gogglebox presents itself as being authentic and not constructed, with its lack of dramatic elements and emphasis of real, average Australians that viewers can identify with. “This fixation with ‘authentic’ personalities, situations, and narratives is considered to be reality TV’s primary distinction from fictional television and also its primary selling point” (Ouelette & Murray, 2004, pg.5). They are perceived as being ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ because they are doing what most ‘average Australians’ do – watch TV, “if it was real life, I’d be watching someone sitting down watching telly all day” (Hill 2005, pg. 75). While the show claims to depict an accurate cross-section of Australia, the ethnic diversity amongst cast members is very minimal (two out of the ten families) in comparison to the multicultural country Australia is. Gogglebox cast their personalities via the traditional audition methods employed for any other television program (Knox 2014). The audition process implies that the ‘average Australians’ shown have been cast to have exaggerated personalities that will create funny and entertaining moments that will be talked about amongst the general public.
The presence of cameras in the cast members’ living rooms, and the knowledge that they are being watched by the public on TV, can also influence the way in which they behave; their reactions could be more exaggerated than if they were not aware of the camera’s presence. “Television audiences are highly sceptical of the truth claims of much reality programming precisely because they expect people to ‘act up’ in order to make entertaining factual television” (Hill 2005, pg. 54). The UK version of the show came under fire when an insider revealed that producers will tell cast members what comments to make, while a spokesman for the show denied this saying “their reactions are genuine and authentic” (Glennie & Reilly 2014). Reality TV loses its appeal when it’s realness comes under scrutiny. The way in which the families watch the shows is also not completely authentic, as the narrator states that the families tuned in while the shows were going to air, however this is not feasible as if a member cannot tune in to the broadcast it would put Gogglebox in jeopardy. It is most likely that the cast members are given DVDs of the shows they are required to watch and do so when it is most convenient for them, so they are not excluded from being in Gogglebox.
Despite the lack of dramatic elements typical of reality TV, the constructed nature and editing of Gogglebox replaces these elements. While reality TV shows often implement dramatic music and cliff hangers which are only revealed following the commercial break, Gogglebox does not employ these methods in creating a dramatic narrative for audiences. However, the selection and editing of shots used from the different families in reaction to the highlights of the show they are watching are cut together to create the most entertaining and dramatic TV possible. Quite often, some families are not shown for the majority of the episode which implies that their reactions were not entertaining. While this doesn’t make Gogglebox appear less authentic, it does demonstrate that it aims to entertain, just like other constructed reality TV shows.
Despite lacking many common traits of reality TV shows audiences have come to recognise, Gogglebox’s audition process, emphasis on exaggerated personalities, and use of constructed editing, demonstrates that it is not as authentic as it claims to be.
This week was the week of our seminar, so we were really busy getting everything for the day organised. For myself, the main things that I was doing was checking in on everyone to make sure everyone knew what they were doing and were fine, organising group meetings and taking minutes, and ramping up our promotional strategy which included releasing our promotional video, helping to print out and distribute our posters, and spread the word on our social media accounts.
We had a group meeting on Monday afternoon where I took minutes and posted them in our Google Drive and our Facebook group. I also checked in with the group halfway through the week to make sure everyone was on track.
The main aim for that meeting was to make sure we hadn’t looked over anything and that everyone was aware of what the plan for our seminar was. During this meeting it was decided that we should have a fruit platter as we had heard that other groups had received negative feedback for not having a healthy alternative, so I offered to organise this out of my own pocket as we hadn’t originally budgeted for a fruit platter.
After our meeting, Henry, James and I printed and put our poster up in Building 9, 80, 94 and the Swanston Library to promote our event. I also took a photo of our poster and put it up on our social media to further promote our seminar.
I also contacted the steering committee with questions that my group had about technical support in the seminar room, the recording of sound in the room, and other bits and pieces that we had initially overlooked. My main contact was Kevin during this time who was fantastic in replying quickly and helpfully.
For our social media campaign, I aimed to post two posts a day, usually one referring to either our guests or a news article related to the Australian film industry, and one a funny meme with details of our seminar to get people’s attention. I posted these on our Facebook page, Facebook event and the RMIT Adventure Facebook page. I sometimes posted them on the Media RMIT Facebook group and my own personal Facebook page to spread the word about our seminar.
On the day of our seminar, I met with our group as per our call sheet, and we split up into different teams. I helped to bring our catering table down to Building 80 and helped Caley and Gina bring theirs and my food to the building and began setting up. Once we set up the catering table, I checked with everyone that the technical equipment was working well and there were no issues, and made sure everyone was confident.
During the seminar, I posted some of the main quotes from our guests onto our Facebook page, the RMIT Adventure Facebook page, and the RMIT Adventure twitter. I also checked with Krystal and Henry that the prize winner was established.
After the seminar, I helped to pack down the catering table and transport our stuff back to our cars.
This week everything for our seminar started to pull together. Everyone has shared their excitement and happiness with how we are progressing as a group and we are all looking forward to our seminar next week.
We had two meetings this week, one on Wednesday to check the progress of everything, and another one on Friday where most of the group shared what stage they were at with their tasks. At Friday’s meeting we finalised the poster to be distributed on Monday (our next group meeting) and we saw the almost completed video as the team were editing it.
I recorded the minutes for both meetings in our Google Drive and also posted them on our Facebook group so everyone was on the same page and knew what needed to be achieved in the days leading up to our event.
I used the steering committee’s pre-seminar form to navigate each aspect of our meeting and make sure each part was discussed in depth; noting the progress of each part in the form which is in the steering committee’s submission folder.
This week I also started ramping up our social media and promotional strategy to get as much interest in our seminar as possible. After speaking to my friends who I had invited to our Facebook event, I realised that it wasn’t clear that the seminar is free and is open to everyone (not just RMIT students) so I made sure to include this information in the description of our event as well as each social media post. As can be seen in the following screenshots, both our Facebook page and Facebook event have seen a dramatic increase in audience engagement, post reach, new likes, and new people clicking ‘join’ on our event.
I increased the awareness of our event by posting on our Facebook page as well as our Facebook event, using a combination of recent articles relevant to the Australian film industry, memes to get people’s attention, our promotional video, and text stating where, when and what our seminar is all about. These were posted every day according to the social media strategy and timeline outlined in our document in the Steering Committee submission drive. (The posts on both the page and event are exactly the same).
I also posted some of these to the Media RMIT Facebook group to increase the awareness for our seminar. This included a general post inviting people to join our Facebook event (our seminar), a meme related to trying to find jobs and how our seminar will assist in this area, and also our promotional video.
After the last seminar ended, I began also using the RMIT Adventure Facebook page to promote our seminar, posting the link to our Facebook event inviting people to join it, the information on our first industry guest, and the promotional video.
I organised the next group meeting which will be held on Monday to finalise aspects including the staging, poster (and distribution), guest bios, and run down of the day.
This week our group met during the mid-semester break to catch up on where everyone was at in their specific roles. Caley and I set-up the social media pages for our seminar, including our own Facebook page and Facebook event, inviting people to join our seminar.
Once these social media sites were set-up, I asked my group members to invite their Facebook friends to both our page and event to generate interest in our seminar.
I also contacted the steering committee on behalf of the poster team to see if there is a budget for printing our posters. I got back to my group with the news that we would have to finance the printing of our posters ourselves and began organising collection for that.
I also provided feedback to Krystal for her staging document and directed her to the props department in building 5 to start seeing what furniture we can book for our seminar.
I took part in the two meetings our group had on Friday (before the seminar & after) and directed each different team to including their documents to the Steering Committee’s Google Drive folder and updating their checklists document to make sure we are on track for our seminar. I communicated this through our Facebook group to make sure even those people who didn’t attend the meeting/s still knew where we are currently at with our seminar.
I posted the meeting minutes in our group’s google drive shared folder and also posted them in our Facebook group so everyone knows what they need to do until our next meeting.
I also began organising another time in which the entire group can meet to see where everyone is at and make sure everyone is on track for our seminar, as well as collecting money for catering, our raffle promotion and our poster printing.
During this time, I also updated the steering committee’s pre-seminar checklist form with where the social media and promotional strategies are at currently. I invited everyone from my group to the steering committee’s google drive folder so they can submit their documents and update the steering committee as to what stage each particular team is at. I also uploaded documents detailing our social media strategy and our promotional strategy and timeline as to release of certain marketing material.
This week I endeavored to try and find some props to use for our seminar’s candy bar at a reasonable price, with the main aim to find some popcorn containers. I found a pack of 10 popcorn holders for around $3.50 at a local party shop and took photos to show my team.
I also found a string of lights that could be included in the design of the candy bar – possibly around a ‘Candy Bar’ sign. I found this at Typo which we could get half price because of Gina’s contact if this is a prop we wanted to include.
I posted this in our Facebook group to get feedback from those responsible for staging and the team overall.
I notified Caley and James through our Facebook group about the Steering Committee’s guest contact form so that they were aware that it needs to be filled out as guests are contacted and their responses and I linked them to the document.
I contacted my group through our Facebook group to see if we could organise to meet before the next seminar so that we could get everyone together before people took off after the seminar. I organised for us to meet at 3:30 in front of the lecture theatre so we could then find a space nearby where we could discuss the progress of our seminar.
I wrote up a table of the meeting minutes from this week’s meeting in our Google Document, inviting members of my group to add anything that I might have missed which I notified them about through our Facebook page, which is where I also posted the meeting minutes in question. I also asked about the confirmation for our next meeting in terms of time and place to finalise this decision.
This week our idea for our seminar started to become more clear and the ways in which we could achieve this became more evident. I created a Google Doc in our Google Drive as a place to begin drafting the questions for our seminar as well as the overall structure of the seminar. I wrote questions that are specific to advice for working in the film industry and how to make a career out of your passion. I also wrote them with the idea in mind that all of our guests would be able to answer them, creating a discussion type session rather than interviewing one guest at a time.
During the social media seminar, I observed how the seminar ran, and thoughts I had on what aspects worked and which in particular didn’t. I then brought these notes to my discussion with my group and raised points such as; having the host of our seminar be seated at the same level as the guests, having a discussion type seminar rather than interviewing one guest at a time so they don’t feel left out, and having a competition and giving away prizes to increase audience participation.During our meeting I also brought up the problem I’ve been facing when it comes to trying to come up with a short and clear social media name and hashtag to use for when we begin our promoting for our seminar. This was something we all discussed and decided we would all think about and readdress it next week. I requested that the team creating the graphics and poster could come up with at least social media graphics so that the social media team can begin promoting the seminar. I compiled the meeting minutes into a table in our Google Drive.
I then posted these minutes in the Facebook group so all members could view what was discussed and what action will be taken by next week, especially for those who weren’t at the meeting.
I also created a Google Doc for ideas and suggestions about marketing techniques including competition ideas, and social media names/hashtags. I contributed my own ideas to this document to communicate them to my group, suggesting different ideas for competitions and combining print and social media marketing to attract people from outside of class to our seminar.
I then also communicated these ideas to my group through our Facebook group and invited them to contribute their own ideas, and comment on the ones I had made.
This week I lead our group’s discussion on the state of our organisation for our seminar. This included discussing and finalising our top three guests that we would like to invite and allocating specific roles for everyone so everybody could start actively working towards our seminar. I compiled these in a Google Doc on our Google Drive, breaking down the roles into tasks to be completed before the seminar and those to be completed on the day of the seminar, which Dominic then compiled into a table.
After allocating roles and deciding on our top three guests, we set tasks to be completed by next week which include having a pitch from those creating the promo video, a pitch from those creating the promo poster, and a pitch from those responsible for organising the structure of the seminar, script and questions for the seminar.
I posted the minutes from the meeting on our ‘Meeting Minutes’ Google Doc in our Google Drive with subsequent tasks to be achieved listed. I also posted this on our Facebook Group to remind everyone of the tasks to be achieved and inform those who couldn’t be in class as to what was discussed and decided upon.
I also posted the files from Blackboard relevant to our seminar, including the checklists, equipment forms, and media releases that we are required to submit as part of our documentation. I accompanied this with a note that there were a couple of things we overlooked during our discussion so that we members of the group can have a look at everything we must check off and see if the roles we overlooked are something they would like to do, so we can discuss these next week.
This week I lead the discussion on suggestions for guests to invite to our seminar. I used the Film Victoria Industry Directory as a source to help find guests who have worked in various roles within the Film industry and provided the link on our Facebook group so all members could utilise it to find guests they would like to invite.
I contributed to the Google Doc that Dominic set up for our group and posted quite a lot of suggestions for Australian industry professionals that we could invite. Along with using the Film Victoria Industry Directory, I also used the website http://www.imdb.com/ to investigate the working history of the people I had in mind.
During our discussion we realised that a lot of our suggestions were men, and we made a conscious decision to begin researching women and also people of different ages and ethnicities to gauge different perspectives during our seminar.
We also discussed different possibilities for the format of our seminar, and we decided that a talk show style hosted by Jim would be a great way to interact with our guests equally and invite the audience to engage with them as well.
At the end of the meeting, I posted the minutes on our Facebook group and Dominic then posted them on our Google Doc Documentation file. I posted the group’s agreed decision for all members to comment on the Facebook post with their top 3 guests that they would like to invite, so that by next week’s meeting we can all agree on the 3 we would like to approach first. I also reminded all members to see if they can find any catering options through their own connections.