Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reality TV: The New Society

I am not sure about a modern “Edith Wharton” author, but in modern medial there are hordes of television shows that capture the same emotion and style of Wharton. Shows such as Gossip Girl, Sex in the City, and even Desperate House Wives are just a handful of examples. The attraction to these shows is that they expose the “dark side” of society, a seemingly flawless hyper-reality. Shows about people with money often reveal characters that are very put together and have everything on the outside, but turning inside reveals depression, anger, and bitterness.
The reflection of Wharton’s writings in popular media is almost laughable. Something that was extremely scandalous and shocking during the nineteen-hundreds is viewed as normal and expected today. The connection between society back then and now is very similar. Everyone wants to be in the select few to be considered “society” but the rules and constraints are still in place. They are extremely different, but what you own and how much money you have is still the driving factor.
In my research about The Age of Innocence I discovered that Gossip Girl had an episode entitled “The Age of Dissonance” where a theatrical production of The Age of Innocence was put on by the characters. In this case there is so much connection to Wharton that they styled the show after her writings. The creation of magical women who are beautiful and seemingly have everything in the world, and yet are not happy, is very appealing and allows a person to become lost in the drama of the story.
I personally question the effects this type of media has on society. I feel that the majority of the time people with money do not act like the women living the “Sex in the City” life, drinking cosmopolitans, having promiscuous relationships, and ignoring the responsibilities of life to go shopping. It creates a false reality (interesting in a world of “reality TV) where the extreme becomes normal.


  1. very interesting tid-bit about how fictionalized the media is even in the world of reality tv. I also question the effects media has on society and wonder where media is going to take us. We shall see I guess.

  2. The rules and the desire to be in society is the same, yet as you say, Lynette, the differences in what is considered "shocking" vary widely so that the extreme becomes normal. I doubt if a reality show featuring women playing bridge for money would get much of a following, for example.