ISSN: 20455852
First published in 2012
2 issues per volume
Volume 7 Issue 2
Cover Date: September 2018
Life’s no beach: (Un)popular reality television of the Australian beach
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Authors:  Elizabeth Ellison 
DOI: 10.1386/ajpc.7.2.289_1

reality television,factual television,Australian beach,Australian television,Australian popular culture,the body

Australian national identity has a long history of being intrinsically tied with landscape, and this is captured in representations of Australia in popular culture. Predominantly, representations of Australia have heavily featured the rural Outback, with television remakes of classic films recently released, such as Wake in Fright (2017) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018) suggesting there is still interest in this idea of an alien and terrifying Outback environment. And yet, most Australians live in coastal regions, many of which form the edge of urban hubs. The Australian beach plays an important role in establishing national identity in part because of its role as a gateway between the natural and the urban. Morris called the Australian beach ‘ordinary’, while Fiske et al. instead include the beach as one of the ‘myths of Oz’. The beach, therefore, inhabits a complex position in Australian imagination as both an ordinary part of Australian lives as well as a mythically beautiful locale for many Australians and tourists alike. Reality television has become an increasingly popular contemporary mode of storytelling and, despite its global dominance, the genre’s tendency to localize content can therefore reveal elements of Australian cultural identity. However, reality television programmes specifically set on the Australian beach have had varying levels of success, ranging from the strikingly popular Bondi Rescue (2006–present) and Bondi Vet (2009–present) to the almost immediately cancelled The Shire (2012) and Being Lara Bingle (2012). This article examines how these texts represent the complexities of the Australian beach through an analysis of representations of the ordinary, the mythic and the body.
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