With brilliant intellectual acuity, feminist scholar Rachel Dubrofsky delivers an insightful and nuanced contribution to the growing literature on reality television.
— Ronald L. Jackson II, Author of Scripting the Black Masculine Body
Dubrofsky's book powerfully illuminates the raced and gendered emotional economy that is the stock and trade of The Bachelor, and the reality TV industry more broadly speaking. No other book reveals the ideological, economic and affective work that race and gender performance do in reality television. Drawing methods from genre and TV studies to critical race studies and political economy, Dubrofsky sheds crucial light on the reality TV enterprise and its gendered and racialized fundamentals. Focusing on the The Bachelor Industry's construction of romantic failure, its injunction to women to be authentically real and its mobilization of the therapeutics of surveillance, Dubrofsky reveals the ways of seeing gender, race and sexuality that structure current reality TV production: from the deployment of surveillance in the female TV confessional to the emotional "money shot" to the re-centering of white heterosexual femininity via the marginalization of women of colour. The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television is a compelling read. It makes an important contribution to feminist media studies and is a highly teachable book.
— Carrie A. Rentschler, McGill University
The Bachelor seems like a simple game show; season after season, women and men are just “looking for love.” Rachel Dubrofsky accepts the offer to attend ABC's bachelor party and, with great analytic dexterity, critiques reality television's guilty pleasures, asking how its stories actively construct raced and gendered bodies. Without suggesting we give our pleasure up, she insists we engage the work The Bachelor Industry does and the way it produces citizens. Dubrofsky ably demonstrates that the quest for love is a story that cannot be told outside of existing logics of whiteness, femininity, and romance.
— Michele Byers, Saint Mary's University
The work aims to study media representations of women in a particular genre, reality television. It contains depictions of women based on gender and race, two categories of analysis that make sense of natural power relations and hierarchical differences. The author fully achieves her objective to provide a thorough analysis of the American reality show The Bachelor and its spin-off The Bachelorette. The choice of these programs, broadcast in prime time on ABC, is warranted by their success with the public, as evidenced by their longevity and large viewership. The choice of shows is all the more relevant as they inscribe women into a heterosexual group: the norms of femininity can be studied with respect to their male counterparts, thereby avoiding re-substantivation attempts such as those the author wishes to deconstruct. . . .The research is based on a solid theoretical framework, which articulates the work of cultural studies through Foucauldian methods. . . .Dubrofsky delivers a detailed analysis of the television devices embedded in a characteristic of contemporary pragmatic approaches to media studies. The book reflects the author’s mastery of the material and vast knowledge of this type of television.
The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television has many strong and insightful aspects. . . .The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television is a welcome and necessary addition to the literature on reality TV. The strength of this book is that it takes a detailed approach to questions of gender and race as they are represented and constructed on The Bachelor and Bachelorette. There are many who will find this book a useful scholarly and teaching resource, as well as an illuminating analysis of a show that will likely be on our televisions of a long time to come.
— Surveillance & Society
Dubrofsky’s book raises valuable questions about the show’s relationship to reality, surveillance, gender, race, and authenticity, and in doing so, it complements and extends the growing body of literature on reality television. . . .Dubrofsky’s textured and nuanced attention to the detailed fabric of the BI makes it an important and useful book not only for scholars of reality television, but also for undergraduate and graduate courses. Dubrofsky knows how to read a media text, and the book provides a model for how to undertake serious ideological criticism of a television series. Her work is methodologically sound, thorough, and rigorous. . . .While other books on reality television have considered the role of surveillance, Dubrofsky’s is the first to offer comprehensive insights into how surveillance, gender, and race intersect in reality television. This well-composed and thoughtfully written study takes on issues that pervade US media culture and crystallizes this phenomenon in the study of the BI. Future scholarship on reality television should build on this study to examine how discourses of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and social class operate across different reality television shows and manifest themselves in media culture beyond reality television. Dubrofsky’s choice to focus on a particular series is wise in that it allows her to lay bare the mechanisms that produce contradictory, reductionist statements about women under surveillance. The Surveillance of Woman on Reality Television invites other scholars to draw from Dubrofsky’s conclusions and consider broader impacts of this research, including assessments of how the industrial context of reality television and reception of these shows operates.
— Quarterly Journal Of Speech
Dubrofsky provides a valuable analysis of what The Bachelor and The Bachelorette can tell us about gender and race in contemporary US mainstream culture. . . .Reality TV depicts more women as main characters than most other popular TV genres. In sitcoms, police procedurals, and high-budget cable dramas, women often play secondary roles or blend into ensemble casts. Dubrofsky’s study highlights the urgent need for further feminist analyses of how gender and race are represented on reality TV. Her book is a vital intervention in television studies and feminist media studies, and it demonstrates the power of sustained close textual analysis informed by feminist and critical race politics. Dubrofsky’s unique in-depth study is especially productive because she takes the shows’ representational logics and narrative pleasures seriously on their own terms. The result is a thorough and compelling analysis of the Bachelor industry as an index of contemporary gendered and racialized ideologies of romantic love, surveillance, emotion, and the self.
— Popular Communication
In the world of reality television, The Bachelor (and its spinoff, The Bachelorette) is a venerable veteran of romance-based shows in which the prince finds his princess among hot tubs, gowns, and roses. The Bachelor has aired since 2002—a lifetime in television years—and yet until now there has not been a comprehensive theoretical study of this reality fairy tale for the 21st century. Rachel Dubrofsky’s endlessly fascinating study of what she terms the “Bachelor Industry” (pp. 7–8) provides a compelling argument for critical analysis of this contemporary romance narrative. By using surveillance as a theoretical lynchpin of her analysis, Dubrofsky goes beyond a traditional postfeminist argument to examine how reality television investment in representing authentic identities and emotions shapes the Bachelor Industry’s construction of women under surveillance. . . .The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television offers an incisive and original analysis of the Bachelor Industry. This analysis also can and should be extended to the reality television industry in general. It offers a fascinating look at the cultural phenomenon that surveys, controls, and promotes certain idealized romantic visions. . . .The book is an important and highly teachable contribution to the critical television studies and to the field of gender studies.
— The Communication Review