Representations of Reality Assignment Description

DUE DATE: March 24 before class!

In this blog post, you will begin to examine the cultural context of which your chosen program is a part. You will examine the world around your chosen program as well as the world created by your chosen program. The requirements of this blog entry are described below.


The blog entry should be written as a coherent whole with an introduction, a conclusion and several paragraphs in between, each of which has a topic sentence. The best blog entries contain links to other sites, embedded naturally in the text. The best blog entries also contain a variety of media to help hold the interest of the reader. Be sure you review my guidelines for writing blog posts.

You will write a 1000 word blog post that answers the question “What aspect of reality is the show trying to represent?” Below are the steps you should use as you develop your understanding of the context and codes of your chosen show. To create assignment, I combined the Demographics section on pp. 188-189, the Context section on pp. 189-190, and The Look of the Program and its Codes section on pp. 190-192 of our textbook.


  1. Determine the network and broadcast day and time for your show.
  2. Determine the target audience for your show.
  3. Determine the Nielsen ratings for the season of your show that you are investigating.
  4. Determine the important events occurring in the world for the year in which your season aired.
  5. Determine whether your show was inspired by any real world events.
  6. Watch several episodes of your show and pay attention to the sets, props, wardrobe, makeup, lighting, camera work, editing and so on.
  7. Here are some questions that you should be thinking about as you try to understand the context and codes of your show:
  8. Using one episode of your show, answer the following questions:
  • Whom does the show “hail”? How do you know?
  • To what demographic group is the subject of the program likely to appeal?
  • What demographic groups do the characters belong to? Age, marital status, economic class, etc.?
  • If there is product placement within the program, what do the products tell you about the intended audience?
  • If you have access to the ads aired during the show, what do the products advertised tell you about the intended audience?
  • How do the characters and/or events in the show reflect real people and events?
  • What societal and cultural values are represented in the show? How do you know?
  • Does the program reinforce or challenge mainstream societal and cultural values?
  • Are contextual and social issues clearly referenced or are they embedded in the show?
  • What ordinary personal issues and attributes are recognizable?
  • What evidence of fads and trends can be detected in the show’s images and discourse?
  • Are there intertextual references to other media and/or real events and people?
  • Is it possible to specify an attributed intent or a message to the program?
  • What do you think is the expected reaction from the audience?
  • Are the events located in an outdoor studio dressed to look like a home, an office, a hospital, coffee shop, bar, restaurant, or another place? Do events take place outdoors in a city, suburb, or rural area?
  • What makes the indoor sets (if there are any) look realistic and natural? What objects, furniture, and other articles contribute to the look? Is there any symbolism?
  • Are the colors bright or subdued? How do the colors contribute to the look of the set? What mood do the colors evoke?
  • How do the objects, furniture and other articles reflect the characters? Are they consistent with time period of the show?
  • What elements provide an authentic look to outdoor scenes (if there are any)? Is there ambient sound? Is there symbolism in the outdoor scenes?
  • Do the characters seem real? Are the actors portraying them right for the parts? Do the characters have depth or just a few characteristics? Are there repetitive characteristics that reinforce a character’s personality? Are the costumes that the characters wear realistic? Do the costumes, makeup, physical actions of the characters reveal something about their personalities and/or motives?
  • Does the dialog sound realistic? What is included and what is left out in the dialogue that could engage the viewer to fill in information or speculation?
  • Is there music in the program other than in the opening credits? If so, what is its intended purpose?
  • If there are sound effects, do they complement the dialogue and action? Can you attach meaning to the sound effects?
  • How does the camera work—the shots (close-up, medium, or long), movement, angles—convey the characters’ emotions, reactions, and personality characteristics? How do the different shot lengths move the narrative forward?
  • How are reaction shots used to play off characters against one another? Does the silent reaction of a character reveal a subtext?
  • Is the lighting bright or dark? What effect does the lighting have on the mood of the program?
  • Is the program postmodern? Why or why not?
  • How do the producers of the program get the viewer to believe that what is seen is really there?

Write your post on one episode of the television show. Try to choose an episode that is typical of the season of the show that you are analyzing.

Rubric for the post:

  • _____ 10 pts      Contains no spelling/grammatical errors or typos
  • _____ 10 pts      Is at least 1000 words and demonstrates considerable thought with regard to the questions posed in the assignment
  • _____ 10 pts      Contains an introduction and a conclusion, written for an audience that doesn’t understand what this assignment is about
  • _____ 10 pts      Contains appropriate visual media and links to other sources of information about the show
  • _____ 10 pts      Contains an arguable thesis statement about the aspects of reality that are represented in the show
  • _____ 10 pts      Describes the intended audience, how that information was determined (that is, what evidence do you have that the audience you identify is the intended audience?) and what that information has to do with the argument about the aspects of reality represented in the show
  • _____ 10 pts      Describes the societal and cultural values represented by the show
  • _____ 10 pts      Provides evidence from the show (actual examples) to support the claims made about societal and cultural values represented
  • _____ 20 pts      Provides examples from the production of the show (props, dialogue, music, characterization, editing, etc.) that support the argument about the aspects of reality represented by the show
  • _____ 100 pts   TOTAL

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