Born This Way: Authenticity as Essentialism in Reality TV

  • Michael Lovelock


Lovelock argues that reality TV has been instrumental in normalising two understandings of queer life: that people are born gay, and that transgender identities constitute authentic genders ‘trapped’ inside ‘wrong’ bodies. Through case studies including Big Brother, I Am Cait, Dancing with the Stars and Botched, this chapter explores how the reality TV conventions of revelation, confession and celebrity have been crucial to this process. Reality shows have represented gay or transgender identities as authentic identities, whilst, more broadly, reality TV’s general fixation with authenticity has enabled understandings of gay or transgender identities as authentic and essential to become popularised. Additionally, this chapter argues that reality TV has represented queer identities that do not fit with these essentialist scripts as undesirable, impossible ways of being.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Lovelock
    • 1
  1. 1.Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam

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