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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Talk Ricki!: a qualitative study of teen perspectives on the "Ricki Lake Show" and other daytime television talk shows Champagne, Fran


This study explores the responses of a selected group of female teenage viewers to the Ricki Lake Show. Although a number of studies have been done in the area of audience, very few of them have considered teenage and young adult audiences. Most of the current research to date has focused on either how television affects viewers' behaviour, primarily children, or in the field of reception research, where studies have explored how viewers respond to various television programs, primarily soap operas, where the subjects were mostly adult women. This study uses the reception research methodology of visiting participants in their homes. A total of seventeen teenage women were interviewed in ten sessions. Interviews covered the following areas: a) why they watch television talk shows; b) their perceptions of the components of the genre, i.e., host, topics, guests, studio audience members, expert, and visual style; and c) their overall perceptions of the genre of talk TV. Each session involved a different episode of the Ricki Lake Show, except for one repeat. Each session lasted for between two and three hours, one hour of which was spent watching the show. The remainder of the time was spent in discussions. A list of questions was used to guide discussions. Interviews and discussions were fully transcribed prior to analysis. The overall results strongly suggested that age and socio-economic status influenced the responses of the study participants. The results also made it clear that these viewers were active participants of media in the sense that they could critique and interpret the genre in a personal manner. However, the participants seemed to lack media awareness skills essential for critical viewing, such as an understanding of the techniques used in creating media images, awareness of the distinction between the view of the world presented on television and the real world, and awareness of the commercial motivations for creating these programs.

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