First research phase: Transcultural Emotional Repertoires in and by Reality TV

Preview of the first episode of the 13th season of Germany's Next Topmodel on 06.02.2018 at Kino Zoo-Palast. Picture: Laura Suna

Preview of the first episode of the 13th season of Germany's Next Topmodel on 06.02.2018 at Kino Zoo-Palast. Picture: Laura Suna

When the first episode of Germany’s Next Topmodel’s 13th season premiered on February 6, 2018 at Kino Zoo-Palast in Berlin, it was met with great public interest. Even in season 13, the TV show still achieves good ratings while at the same time remaining controversial – as the examples of #notheidisgirl or pinkstinks shows. Apparently, the show retains its potential for affection. Sentiment of guilty pleasure, feminist-critical action and discussion or distinction towards the format are only some of the possible reactions among the audience.

In this light, the project “Transcultural Emotional Repertoires in and by Reality TV” turned to the question of which affective dynamics emerge among the global circulation of popular cultural media formats like reality TV. Our starting point was the assumption that emotions are extensively displayed in reality TV formats and that these emotions represent an essential moment of attraction for the audience. The project focused on how emotions and affects produce proposals for the negotiation of belonging and exclusion. How do these formats regulate emotions that can be said and shown in public? We thereby analysed the negotiation between allegedly universal emotions and their locally specific affective articulations, modifications and irritations.

The study aimed to identify and reconstruct the process of affection and the associated processes of communitization and negotiation of belonging. We thereby analysed emotions and affects in reality TV in the context of the circuit of media culture, namely on the level of production and distribution, media text, and reception and appropriation (du Gay et al. 1997; Hepp 2004).

By this we intended to make affect studies useful for empirical research in communication and media studies.

Research steps

1. Production and Distribution
2. Television Analysis
3. Reception and Appropriation