‘It’s Time to Go!’ ‘You’re Fired’: Australian Big Brother (2005) and Britain’s The Apprentice (2014)
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Robin Joyce writes of different cultures, programmes and years, comparing women’s treatment in Big Brother Australia (BB) and The Apprentice UK (TA) to provide insights into these two reality television examples, the potential impact of discrimination law on reality television, and the prognosis for women seeking advancement through the process. Joyce asks whether the different formats and programme aspirations affect female contestants, how are they treated and does equal opportunity or anti-discrimination law have any effect? Can women compete successfully as ‘traditional’ women, employing ‘female’ traits? Can they succeed by adopting business strategies? Direct outcomes, such as the winner’s prize, are markedly different between the programmes. Greater similarities appear in indirect benefits, including media appearances in other reality shows and making radio and television programmes or appearances. Winners of BB are chosen by audiences, on which the programme relies entirely. For TA, whilst other experts’ opinions are sought, Lord Sugar delivers the final judgement. Joyce’s analysis shows that the different processes garner female and male winners, but the gender imbalance on BB is significant in numbers and in comparison with TA results. She observes that both programmes rely on elements of drama as well as reality; editing is inevitable and naturally dramatic events ‘making good television’ influence what is aired. Audiences are familiar with reality television and its features, so become adept at reading what they are seeing. In comparing Australian BB 2005 with so much of its emphasis on women displaying traditional feminine traits, and TA 2014 demanding women demonstrate business acumen and traits traditionally male, Joyce sees it as ironic that women are more likely to win TA. Does this mean law can influence popular culture when business is the central focus, but fails to impact on popular culture effectively designed to promote male–female rivalry?
KeywordsBusiness Plan Reality Television Woman Candidate Business Acumen Male Contestant
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