Bafta adds a new reality TV category

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which awards Baftas, the UK’s version of Emmys, has added a new category for “reality and constructed factual” shows. The awards already have categories for”best factualy series” and “single documentary,” and one that includes variety, quiz, and game shows, in which The X Factor has won.

In its announcement, the Academy said that its new category “will recognise programmes where participants are put into environments or formats and then observed interacting in situations devised by the producers.”

While BBC News’ report clarifies that the category will include shows that “are a cross-pollination of soap opera and documentary, following real people going about their daily lives — but some storylines are constructed or initiated by producers in advance,” it notes that it could include a competition series such as I’m a Celebrity.

So, this isn’t perfect–in a U.S. version of that category, shows as varied as The Hills and Survivor could conceivably fit. But it is a step in the right direction, as it defines reality TV in a more narrow way, specifically by the way it is constructed and formatted. The Emmys just divide reality TV between a competition category and a catch-all category that tends to have weirdly incomparable shows and desperately needs revision.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.