Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Reed College of Media


Reed College of Media

Committee Chair

Sara Magee.


In the summer of 2000 CBS launched a wilderness and competition reality show called "Survivor." The show became a monster hit with more than fifty million viewers watching the finale, ratings only second to Super Bowl. That summer and that show forever changed many aspects of the television industry. Reality TV had been around for years, but with "Survivor" it began a period of lightening fast development, growth, and influence. During the past decade, many different reality shows have emerged and this research categorizes those shows into four sub-genres that it is argued all reality shows during this time could fit into. Those genres, and the hybrids of them that are still emerging, will play a huge part in how television in the future is created, financed, and produced. In addition, reality TV and all its genres have expanded what is considered acceptable as scripted and unscripted broadcast content in less than 10 years. The implications this has had and will continue to have on the television industry are numerous and important to understand if one is to recognize where television programs are headed in the future. This detailed history gives a much needed glimpse into the people, the programs, and the processes that went into creating one of the most dominant and influential formats of television programming today and in the future.