Journalists and reality TV enthusiasts Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale bring us their podcast 'Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV'. Going way back to the origins of the genre, the podcast is a fantastic look at society through the lens of TV over the past two decades.
Reality television has really found its sea legs in the last ten years in particular, cementing itself as a crucial genre of television and garnering admiration, debate, and critical acclaim.
People are taking it steadily more seriously as a genre that opens important avenues of discussion around society and features people from all walks of life. Even if we don't agree with everything we see onscreen, it can spark much needed conversations online and in the media.
Nowadays, reality TV is a juggernaut that boasts documentaries on everything from the most natural of concepts like 'Gogglebox', where contestants pass remarks while watching TV shows and films on tele, to 'Sexy Beasts', where contestants dress in prosthetics and costumes to look like animals on a date.
But Sykes and Kale go deeper. They look at the shows like 'Big Brother', 'The X-Factor', 'What Not To Wear' and 'The Hills' that gave way to the reality television that we watch today, like 'Selling Sunset' and 'The Kardashians', which they discuss too.
Today, producers play a significant role in these 'documentary' style shows; there are story-boarders, editors, script-writers, and the 'Unreal' podcast takes a look at how the root programmes within the genre were lot more ... genuine.
So-called "docusoaps" brought us sensationalised drama on 'The Only Way is Essex' and 'Made in Chelsea', which the pair dissect to find the must-have ingredients for a successful modern day reality TV show.
'Love Island' gets its own two-parter, making for over an hour and a half long discussion wherein Sykes and Kale unpack the controversies and critiques surrounding the show and they answer the question: will 'Love Island' spell the end of Reality TV?
The podcast is part investigative, part nostalgia, and it's steeped with clever insights and humorous anecdotes from the best (and worst) in this style of programme over the last two decades. It's the true crime/gossip crossover we didn't know we needed.
Listen to 'Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV' by BBC Radio 4 here.