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Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps

A New Form of Representation or Depictions as Usual?


Adria Y. Goldman and Damion Waymer

Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps explores representations of Black women in one of the most powerful, popular forms of reality television – the docusoap. Viewers, critics, and researchers have taken issue with what they consider to be unflattering, one-dimensional representations. This book discusses images of Black women in reality television during the 2011 viewing year, when much criticism arose. These findings provide a context for a more recent examination of reality television portrayals during 2014, following many reality stars’ promises to offer new representations. The authors discuss the types of images shown, potential readings of such portrayals, and the implication of these reality television docusoap presentations. The book will be useful for courses examining topics such as popular culture; mass media and society; women’s studies; race and media; sex and gender; media studies; African American issues in mass communication; and gender, race and representation, as well as other graduate-level classes.
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Chapter 3. Does Majority or Minority Cast Status Matter?




The question in this chapter is: “How do the mediated representations of Black women in docusoaps in which they are featured in a predominantly Black (PB) female cast differ from those that feature Black women as the minority (PNB) characters”? In our analysis of the 2011 season of the shows mentioned in Chapter 2, we found that differences do exist, as some dominant categories for Black women in the PB shows did not emerge as dominant categories for the Black women in the PNB shows. These dominant categories, which emerged from the narrated lived experiences of 14 Black women in the PB shows were: the Professional Black Woman (n=13), the Good Black Mother (n = 10), and the High Class Black Woman (n = 14). Each of these images was presented overall in a flattering light.

There there was one category that emerged as a dominant character for the Black women in the PNB shows only. Five of the six Black women in the PNB shows were presented as the Sexualized Black Woman. The character was presented in an unflattering light. Table 3 illustrates how these images appeared in PB shows compared to the PNB shows. ← 53 | 54 →

Table 3. Differences Between 2011 PB Docusoaps and PNB Docusoaps.

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