Screening: The Bachelor
The Bachelor Australia is a reality television series originally adapted from the American version of The Bachelor. The show premiered in Australia in 2013, however it was the finale episode in the 2014 season that captivated the Australian audience. Only after the finale, it was announced that The Bachelor Blake Garvey had split up with the winner Sam Frost, to whom he engaged to on the finale. Attracting millions of viewers, it came a shock to viewers, as the ‘perfect’ engagement in the South African countryside was a hoax. Although the show had ended, for months after the episode, viewers were still talking about the finale. It was announced that the show was renewed for two editions, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette with a female lead. Following the hype of the 2014 finale, the new season was set to obtain a high viewership and media coverage. Due to the enormous social media exposure, The Bachelor has become a phenomenon initiating discussions online across different social media platforms.
Reality television is “commonly used to describe a range of popular factual programming”., (Hill, 2004) The ‘reality’ of the 2014 The Bachelor finale was questioned due to the following sequential events. As Blake Garvey and Sam Frost broke up only days after, it was a shock to the audience who just saw the couple happily become engaged. Whether it was to gain ratings and viewers or not, the proposal gained a lot of attention. However, “audiences place a great deal of trust in the ability of television cameras to capture real events as they happen” (Hill, 2004) when they watch reality television. They become heavily involved in reality television shows that it is assumed that they “cannot tell the difference between entertainment and information”. (Hill, 2004) The media coverage after the finale proved to the dedicated audience that the couple fell out of love due to Blake’s “change of heart”, and the engagement was actually real. Audiences are what drive reality television shows like The Bachelor; therefore the events following the finale became a point of interest for many of the viewers after the finale.
The audience plays an important role in the reception of reality television shows, as they become engulfed in the reality of the show. Following the hype from the 2014 series, The Bachelor Australia season 3 this year was eagerly anticipated by reality television enthusiasts of Australia. Due to social media, audiences are able to become more involved with television shows. The Bachelor had a hashtag which was shown on screen after an ad break of #BachelorAU with many viewers tweeting about the show. This hashtag usually a trend in Australia on twitter throughout the show and after the show has ended. As “reality programmes are part of the landscape of the evening schedule” (Murphy, 2006) in Australia, it has become popular to watch these shows with large groups of people. As well as people tweeting about the show, there are also drinking games made especially for The Bachelor about the stereotypical things shown on the show. As much as people like to make fun of the show, it ultimately captures viewers attention enough to be talking about it.
The media attention online for reality television shows is usually wide-spread due to the popular interest amongst Australians. Every episode, a contestant will go home which can sometimes cause a lot of frenzy and disappointment online. Media/News website ‘Mamamia’ publishes a recap of each ‘The Bachelor‘ episode shortly after the episode airs. ‘Rosie’s Recap’ after each episode is shared hundreds of times due to its humorous nature and satirical writing style. After watching the show, many viewers share the recap on different social media sites, therefore giving the show more and more attention online. Kerrie Murphy, in her article ‘Australia’s obsession with reality television’ states that “reality TV is a phenomenon” due to its “popularity amongst Australian audiences”. (Murphy, 2006) The phenomenon of The Bachelor is due to many reasons, however, the social media hype undeniably facilitates the shows popularity.
Due to social media interest, The Bachelor has become widely talked about across Australia. As the audience plays a major part in reality television, it is important that they trust what they see on television. Once this trust is obtained, it becomes more entertaining than ever to watch as they become involved in the show in many different ways. Social media increases the popularity of the show through trending hashtags, articles, and recaps across different platforms. The shows popularity continues to increase, obtaining great interest amongst viewers.
- Hill, A, 2006, ‘Reality TV: Factual Entertainment and Television Audiences’
- Murphy, K, 2006, ‘TV Land: Australia’s Obsession with Reality Television’, pp. xii + 260
- ‘Who Magazine’, 2015, [online] Available at: https://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/who/a/25846670/sam-frost-shares-new-details-about-nasty-split-from-blake-garvey/ [Accessed 22 Oct. 2015].
Audiences: Pretty Little Liars
Audiences play a major part in how television shows are viewed and received. The consumption of television shows depends on the audience and how they receive different texts. Audiences are said to be either active or passive consumers when consuming television shows, however the more ‘modern’ theory suggests that audiences are active consumers. Fans of television shows are said to be the ultimate active audience as they are able to bring in their own thoughts, feelings and beliefs of the television show. An example of this are the fans of the television show ‘Pretty Little Liars’. These fans are considered active audiences as they create their own meanings from what they view and receive on television.
An active audience is one that actively engages with a media text, making sense of a text using their own beliefs. An active audience often are open for interpretation and can think for themselves when it comes to a media text. There are many communication theories that argue how strongly an audience is influenced by media; and to what extent they are influenced. It is suggested that active audiences “experience a sense of freedom and control”, while passive audiences experience “a lack thereof”. (Hearn, 1989) Active audiences are able to continuously think ahead and discover things for themselves. Television show fans are able to do this when solving mysteries or predicting the future storylines. Fans of television shows are able to participate in fan cultures such as fan fiction, fan blogs, theories, YouTube videos, twitter accounts etc. These types of fan cultures ultimately affect how an audience view and receives a particular television show. A fan of a television show is able to actively involve themselves in the plot, storyline and mysteries the show presents. Television fandoms are now a “cultural and social network that spans the globe” which continues to develop across different television shows and genres. (Jenkins, 2012)
The television drama, ‘Pretty Little Liars’ on ABC Family started in 2011, involving the mystery of a teenage girl Alison that leads to the unknown character of ‘A’. Throughout the entire five seasons so far, the main idea of the program is to discover who A is. This unknown mystery engages the audience with the storyline as they actively seek to solve and connect the mysteries together. Rather than viewers simply waiting in anticipation for the big reveal, they work collaboratively to predict who it may be. As these fans are able to “promote their own meanings”, this ultimately means they are active consumers as they are reading into the television show beyond what is produced to them. (Jenkins, 2012) These fans of Pretty Little Liars have been trying to create storylines and plots since the first season as the mystery of ‘A’ continues to develop. Whilst many theories of ‘A’ have been created by fans, these types of fans also “manufacture their own fanzine stories and novels, art prints…etc.” (Jenkins, 2012) They continue to trend hashtags on twitter to get the attention of the directors and writers to alter the storyline to fit their desires; such as hopeful relationships, or theories they would like to see come true. While consuming this text, ‘Pretty Little Liars’ fans interpret their own meaning of certain events, actively involving themselves in the show and the outcome.
Active audiences are able to interpret their own thoughts and feelings into a text, similarly to those of the show ‘Pretty Little Liars’. As the fans of the show are actively seeking an answer, they are able to create their own understanding from what they are seeing on the television show and link it to the mysteries that are involved. These audiences actively involve themselves in the show in a way that generates a cohesive environment for fans to interpret the information displayed to them.
Jenkins, H, 2012 ‘Textual Poaches: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (2nd Edition)’, pp 83-120
Hearn, G, 1989, Active and Passive Conceptions of the Television Audience: Effects of a Change in Viewing Routine
Television viewing habits
There were three main platforms which I watched television over the last 6 weeks; on Netflix, on free-to-air television, and on websites where I streamed them such as Project Free TV. Whilst looking at my time-use diary, I found it very interesting that my viewing habits depended on which platform I was viewing from. It became clear that each television platform serves a different purpose to me in relation to my television habits. I mainly watched television shows on Netflix, free-to-air TV and via streamed episodes on website Project Free TV. I would use a different platform depending on what program I would watch, and with whom I would watch it with.
My first finding was that I stream a lot of television shows on a website ‘Project Free TV’. These shows that I stream are shows that I am unable to watch on free-to-air television, so they appear online hours after they are viewed in America. These types of shows are ones that I have been watching for a while so I only would watch a show once a week. As most of these shows I watch are directly from the U.S.A, I usually do not binge watch them as I am up to date with these shows. It was clear in the time-use-diary that I would only watch these shows, like Awkward and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, as I have kept up with each season every week a new episode comes out. On all occasions, I only watched streamed shows by myself, as I am the one that is up to date with the episodes.
However, there are also television shows that I solely watch on streaming platform Netflix. My findings were that I tended to binge watch most of the shows I watched on Netflix. This is because all of the episodes are in a row, and when paused, it is easy to come back and continue watching where you left off. Also, like the show I was watching, Orange is The New Black, Netflix releases their own original series’, where they release a whole season at once. Because of this, it is extremely tempting to watch the whole season at once. This is what I do when I find a television show for the first time, (or when a new season comes out on Netflix) as all of the episodes are in one place. I tended to watch Orange is The New Black in 3 or 4-hour blocks at a time, as I could watch many episodes at once. I also mainly watched Netflix by myself on my couch as I watch it at my own pace, with it returning to where I leave from every time I reopen it. If I watched Netflix with my sister, it was because we both were up to the same episode and it was possible to watch it together.
Apart from watching television shows on the Internet, I also watch television shows on free-to-air television. It was very interesting to find that I would mostly watch shows on free-to-air television with company; either my friends or family. It was also interesting to note that most of the shows I would watch on free-to-air were reality television shows. My family and I would watch The Bachelor together on the couch in the TV room, as it was a show that could be talked about together. The reason why I think I watch free-to-air TV shows with my family is that it it usually just after dinner where we would sit on the couch and watch TV. Another reality TV show like The X-Factor is also watched with my family as we have been watching together for the past 5 years. The reason for watching these shows on the actual television is because they are shows you only watch once, and it is not something to binge watch or download as it is live around Australia at a particular time each week.
These findings from my television diary that I kept proved to be very interesting showing the correlation between the platform I would watch a show on, who I would watch it with and what types of shows I would watch. Different platforms affected the types of shows I would watch and how. Each platform I view television shows off serves a different purpose to me according to when I started watching the show, if I am binge watching a show, or if the show airs in Australia. These factors all affect my television habits; including how, where and with whom I watch it.