Learning with the stars: A cross-national approach to media literacy and reality television

Dingxin Rao, Changhee Lee, Mark Dressman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reality television (RT) programming is frequently and rightfully criticized and yet its popularity among adolescent and young adult viewers is also undeniable. In response to the need for media literacy programs to address the pleasures, the problems, and the pedagogy of the genre, we have chosen to take a cross-national, comparative approach and to model a process for teaching through our own research. Three popular reality tv programs were selected from each of our respective nations (China, South Korea, the United States) from one of three subgenres: Dancing, Restaurants, and Travel. We each watched episodes of all nine programs, inventoried their features and took notes. We then compared and contrasted the programs cross-nationally and across genres, and identified four themes: Pedagogy; Individualism and Collectivism; Tradition and Modernity; and Globalism and Nationalism. We found striking differences across nations in our analysis that provide important insights into our respective national cultures. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of our process for teaching about RT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


  • China
  • South Korea
  • United States
  • media literacy
  • reality television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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