Reality TV Parody
It has become popular for fictional TV programs to parody real life situations for the purpose of comedy and entertainment.
In most cases, reality television highlights the lives of everyday people who are put into fabricated or stressful situations to create a specific living environment that lends itself to stress, humor, or drama. There are shows, however, that parody reality by filming them in a documentary-style format because it presents the actors and themes of the show as if it were real people. Yet, the entire show: actors, set, plot and theme, are all fictional. This parody of reality television has been dubbed ‘mockumentary’ because it mimics documentary style filming but is actually fiction.
One very popular television show that parodies reality is The Office. The Office is a popular American sitcom derived from the similarly named show that was popular in the UK. The Office parodies reality by playing up on common office humor and issues. The characters could just as easily be everyday people in an office (with some funny embellishments) yet, they are professional actors hired to appear as such. The reality television parody comes from how the show is filmed. The cameraman conducts small interviews with each character as if the viewer were watching a documentary team filming the goings on in an office. Eye contact with the camera, the interviews and seeing ‘hidden scenes’ all play into the reality television parody and ‘mokumentary’ style that has been so successful and is humorously executed on the show.
Another popular reality television parody is Reno 911. This mockumentary follows a police unit in Reno as if it were the show COPS, except the events of the police unit turn humorous because actors, funny plot lines, the stereotype of the town of Reno itself and other humorous turns in events.
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Reality parodies have been popular in film as well, and debuted the parody on documentary style filming long before television picked it up, with movies such as Best In Show and Waiting For Guffman. Because reality television and reality itself lends itself to humorous situations, the ability to harness that fictionally is a fun play on a format (documentary-style) that was historically used for informational films.