In order to understand audience responses to reality programming we need to consider how audiences categorise the reality genre, and how they judge the performance of ordinary people and the representation of authenticity within different types of reality programmes. We also need to consider how audiences understand the idea of learning from watching reality programmes, and how they think about ethics in relation to reality programmes. I would like to critically reflect on each issue in turn in this concluding chapter, before opening up debate about audiences of popular factual television to wider discussion of television audiences and television genres.
One point I would like to raise at the start of this chapter is the issue of cultural specificity. Much of the discussion in this book has been about British popular factual television and its audience. This is because the research I conducted was in the reception of British popular factual television. I have tried, wherever possible, to open up debate about reality TV in relation to other countries, in particular the USA. Nevertheless, the findings in this book could be perceived as findings about the British viewing experience of reality TV. I hope the general points made in this concluding chapter are taken in the spirit with which they are intended, which is to further our critical understanding of the production, content and reception of popular factual television. Although the findings are undoubtedly influenced by my experience of reality TV in Britain, I trust that readers can interpret these findings in relation to the broader picture of reality TV around the world, and can find similarities and differences with the viewing experience as outlined here, and the viewing experience for these programmes in other countries. As more audience research is conducted around the world, we will be able to construct a rich and diverse database for the reception of popular factual television.