Interventional television formats centering around the ritual transformation of “ordinary people” are not only followed by sizable audiences worldwide but also attract large numbers of aspiring candidates. Although the benefits and consequences of participating in such shows have long been debated within academia and beyond, research into actual experiences of participating in such television productions remains scarce. Based on in-depth interviews with participants of the disability dating show The Undateables, this article focuses on how contributors deal with their position in the production and how their experiences reflect the emancipatory claims of the program. By presenting the production process through the story and from the perspective of three participants, different modes of participation will be discussed, revealing how instances of submission, appropriation, and contestation of the production logic are linked to ideals of representation, notions about empowerment and voice, and to strategies of negotiating normalcy and difference.

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Television and New Media
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Boross, B., & Reijnders, S. (2018). Dating the Media: Participation, Voice, and Ritual Logic in the Disability Dating Show The Undateables. Television and New Media. doi:10.1177/1527476418782184