Documentaries, Biopics, and Reality Television
Chapter 8. “Are You Here to Tell a Story?”: An Analysis of One Reality Television Show about Teaching
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“ARE YOU HERE TO TELL A STORY?”
An Analysis of One Reality Television Show about Teaching
On October 1, 2010, a short-lived reality television series featuring a celebrity teaching a tenth grade English class in a public high school premiered on the cable channel Arts & Entertainment (A&E). That celebrity teacher was Tony Danza, best known for his roles in the sitcoms Taxi and Who’s the Boss? A few months before the show Teach: Tony Danza (Greif & Reed, 2010) aired, a promotional advertisement ran on A&E. The promo opens with a first-person camera shot of someone walking down a school hallway and entering a classroom. As the students look up to see who has entered their classroom, Danza speaks in a voiceover: “Everybody gets nervous on their first day of school, and I’m no different. It’s hard being the good guy. You know, where I come from I’m pretty popular, but that’s not going to help me here.” The camera then focuses on Danza, dressed in a button down shirt with a tie, standing behind a desk in front of a chalkboard. Some of the students are smiling, while others look incredulous. As he announces, “I’m Mr. Danza. I’m your English teacher,” the words “It’s not a role, it’s reality” appear on the screen. For the first time, a reality television show was about to demonstrate to America what was happening in one of its...
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