© 2019

Reality TV and Queer Identities

Sexuality, Authenticity, Celebrity


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Michael Lovelock
    Pages 1-32
  3. Michael Lovelock
    Pages 63-92
  4. Michael Lovelock
    Pages 127-154
  5. Michael Lovelock
    Pages 189-200
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 201-205

About this book


This book examines queer visibility in reality television, which is arguably the most prolific space of gay, lesbian, transgender and otherwise queer media representation. It explores almost two decades of reality programming, from Big Brother to I Am CaitAmerican Idol to RuPaul’s Drag Race, arguing that the specific conventions of reality TV—its intimacy and emotion, its investments in celebrity and the ideal of authenticity—have inextricably shaped the ways in which queer people have become visible in reality shows. By challenging popular judgements on reality shows as damaging spaces of queer representation, this book argues that reality TV has pioneered a unique form of queer-inclusive broadcasting, where a desire for authenticity, rather than being heterosexual, is the norm. Across all chapters, this book investigates how reality TV’s celebration of ‘compulsory authenticity’ has circulated ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ ways of being queer, demonstrating how possibilities for queer visibility are shaped by broader anxieties and around selfhood, identity and the real in contemporary cultural life. 


television gay lesbian representation Big Brother RuPaul's Drag Race visibility selfhood identity popular culture sex gender

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam

About the authors

Michael Lovelock is an English teacher, who has previously taught media and cultural studies at the University of East Anglia and Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. His previous work has appeared in numerous journals, including the International Journal of Cultural Studies, Feminist Media Studies and Sexualities.

Bibliographic information


“Michael Lovelock’s Reality TV and Queer Identities: Sexuality, Authenticity, Celebrity offers an excellent insight into the changing landscape of televisual form revealing how queer social actors are staking their claim within reality TV. Offering both an historical account and a sophisticated theoretical foundation, Lovelock’s insight is both informative and provocative.  Engaging with case studies as diverse as The Real World, Bake Off, and Fire Island, this book is accessible, stimulating and a delight, for scholars and everyday readers.” (Christopher Pullen, Bournemouth University, UK )