The only interesting quote from this one is this:
Influential East Coast critics thus reserved their highest praise for programming that took advantage of TV's capacity to perfectly simulate reality and to put viewrs on the scene in ways that seemed to allow the audience to participate in the simulation. This is no longer the case. In the age of expanding media tabloidism, so-called reality TV, and especially the "reality-based" cop shows, are widely seen as "the trashiest trash," from the perspective of "legitimate" cultural taste. (56-57)
This was a key mistake of mine. I knew Survivor came out in 2000, so I did my best to avoid any books published before 2000, assuming the media models presented would be outdated. But I failed to remember that analysis would not be printed in the same year. Sloppy researching, on my part, but luckily not a particularly time-consuming mistake. Mostly the comments on "reality" television here referred either to shows like Cops, where we follow the process of law, or talk shows like Geraldo or Phil Donahue.
(I totally grew up on Donahue. My mom would watch her soaps and then leave it on and do something else, but I'd be absolutely hypnotized. That was what I watched after I got home from elementary school.)
This did remind me of one thing I probably should have been keeping better track of. The "game" reality show, as it is, only came into the scene as we know it around 2000, but I can't just forget that there's a long history of reality television going back to the seventies at least. I should at least be keeping in mind the basics- American Family, then Real World, then Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Those were all huge influences that led to where things are now.
I am aware this isn't actually necessary in the text as I want to present it, but it's a lot harder to just accept that when I realize no one knows the foundation these programs were built on. I keep thinking back to most of the really good nonfiction I've read, and it seems like there was always a knowledge starting point. I don't know how much about reality TV people know by osmosis and how much they just don't know, because, to be completely honest, I didn't know that much until two and a half years ago, and I'm a giant nerd who read TV Guide cover to cover as a little kid.
So, given the disparity between the amount of expected media literacy I was assuming and the amount I found researching, I'm not really sure where to go to with pre-Survivor media.
I'm sure that if I rewatch Rob C's Guide to Reality TV enough, I'll stumble upon a fitting solution.