The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences

By Katherine Sender | Go to book overview

6
Mirror, Mirror
The Reflexive Self

That’s why this show is good: it’s because it’s not a makeover show.
It’s not really to make over your clothes because you’re just terri-
ble. They’re trying to give people tools to move through life bet-
ter. And that makes it so much better, especially when you have all
this resistance from people…. But that’s the best part, is to see the
people make the transformation internally, even if they didn’t mean
to. They’re like, “Gosh, I’m so surprised.” And I know that’s a little
bit of the producers, leading them to say certain things. But you do
get a sense that they feel different.

—Danica, What Not to Wear interviewee

Danica here draws together some of the themes from the preceding chapters. She disputes that What Not to Wear is a makeover show, suggesting a narrow definition of this genre that focuses only on physical transformation. What she enjoys instead about What Not to Wear is its attention to “internal” change, despite the candidates’ conscious intentions. Although she is aware of the producers’ interventions in what happens on-screen, she maintains that such a transformation has indeed taken place, that candidates “feel different” about themselves. The preceding chapters considered media and self-reflexivity in audiences’ engagements with the shows. In chapter 3, audiences drew on their knowledge of the production contexts of the shows to appraise their instruction and consumer appeals, representing themselves as experts in the process. In chapter 4, respondents constructed moral

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