(Guilty) Viewing Pleasures and Reality TV: Queer Viewers Decoding the Greek Version of The Bachelor

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Despite their relatively long and successful presence in the history of Greek private television, reality shows have generally been cast in a negative light. Due to its concentration on superficial topics pertaining to the private sphere, the genre has been criticised as “bad,” while its viewers are often imagined as being at the bottom of a moral hierarchy. Drawing on the queer research tradition’s interest in audience studies and building on the idea of friendship as a generative site of inquiry, this article analyses how five queer viewers make sense of the Greek version of the popular reality show, The Bachelor (ALPHA, 2020-2021). By initiating a dialogue between Sara Ahmed’s queer phenomenology and queer reception studies, I contest what is considered to be “bad” material on television, not only in terms of its “authenticity,” but also in terms of the emotional and affective responses that it may generate to its viewers. Through notes from the fieldwork and interviews, I explore how overly heteronormative shows that exclude particular groups of people, like The Bachelor, enable viewers to experience guilty pleasures, read the reality show through critical lenses and even resist its content in creative ways. In doing so, I highlight the importance of including “lowbrow” entertainment and embodied approaches in the study of Greek screen cultures, which can not only add significant original thought concerning the reception of everyday media forms by the academic community but can also challenge the unworkable dichotomies between high/low culture and heterosexual/queer, often found in much queer theoretical work.

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