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Scripted Reality: Why X-Diaries Appeals to Adolescents (2011)

The scripted reality TV format X-Diaries, which has been running since 2010 in RTL2’s early evening slot, is mainly watched by adolescents and young adults. In a collaborative study with the Landesanstalt für Medien Nordrhein-Westfalen (LfM) (North Rhine Westphalia State Media Authority), the IZI investigated, via a study of fans involving 107 regular recipients, what it is that adolescents and young adults find fascinating about this format, whether they realise the programme is scripted, and what pedagogical problems it poses.  

Results: The programme puts adolescents in a comfortable reception position. They sympathise with the romantic stories, laugh at the mistakes of others and at the amateur actors, and enjoy the way the programme openly addresses the theme of sexuality. X-Diaries thereby opens up a variety of reception positions. The amateur acting, especially, opens up projection screens for the recipients, for instance on the question of whether they themselves could have “brought across” this emotional state and the situation any better. The format’s media convergence with the Facebook community opens up a virtual community of former and potential new actors, but also of those people who like to elevate themselves by putting down the characters depicted. Pedagogical problems emerge where younger adolescents do not realise the stories are fictional, but also where a “distorted” view of reality is presented via the stereotypical representation of people, milieus and professional groups.