Spring 2022 - GSWS 321 E100

Special Topics in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (4)

Gender and Reality TV

Class Number: 6944

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    AQ 5018, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    15 units.



A specific theme within the field of gender, sexuality, and women's studies, not otherwise covered in depth in regularly scheduled courses, will be dealt with as occasion and demand warrant.


The Bachelor. 90 Day Fiancé. Bling Empire. Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Love Island. The Real Housewives of…you name it! The list of reality TV shows is seemingly endless, as is our appetite for consuming them. Early critics of reality TV claimed it was responsible for bringing about the demise of “culture.”  Yet, as many feminist media studies scholars have persuasively argued, reality TV has a lot to say about how contemporary society views gender and gender relations. Therefore, this Special Topics course will wade into these debates by exploring the role that popular reality TV plays in mediating cultural ideas about gender and its various intersections such as race, class, sexuality, and even nationality. It is expected that students will be familiar with reality TV, and will be prepared to engage in viewings outside of class-time to complete some coursework.

The first part of the course will focus on unpacking the term “Reality TV,” introducing students to scholarly debates about the sociocultural, generic, and economic evolution of this television format. We will then explore different feminist approaches to analyzing reality TV, looking at a number of programs and genres as case studies. Attention will also be paid to audience participation and fandoms, as well as the impact of reality TV on our understanding of citizenship, democracy, and nationalism.


For more detailed information please see the GSWS website:


  • Class Participation 15%
  • Class Presentation 10%
  • Reality TV Viewing Journal 25%
  • Short Critical Paper (5-6 pages) 20%
  • Final Paper (10-12 pages) 30%



  • Course readings will be available via Canvas or online.
  • A number of recommended texts will be placed on library reserve.
  • Students will need personal access to a streaming platform such as Netflix or Crave.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.