From HGTV and the Food Network to Keeping Up With the Kardashians, television is preoccupied with the pursuit and exhibition of lifestyle. Lifestyle TV analyzes a burgeoning array of lifestyle formats on network and cable channels, from how-to and advice programs to hybrid reality entertainment built around the cultivation of the self as project, the ethics of everyday life, the mediation of style and taste, the regulation of health and the body, and the performance of identity and "difference." Ouellette situates these formats historically, arguing that the lifestyling of television ultimately signals more than the television industry's turn to cost-cutting formats, niche markets, and specialized demographics. Rather, Ouellette argues that the surge of reality programming devoted to the achievement and display of lifestyle practices and choices must also be situated within broader socio-historical changes in capitalist democracies.
Laurie Ouellette is Associate Professor of Media Studies in the Departments of Communication and Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. She writes about television, social theory and consumer culture, and is the co-author of Better Living Through Reality TV: Television and Post-Welfare Citizenship and editor of A Companion to Reality Television, among other books.
Introduction 1. Branding Lifestyle 2. The Self as Project 3. Governing Citizens 4. The Labor of Lifestyle 5. Performing Difference Questions for Discussion