Between Reality, Soap and Talk Show: Maria De Filippi’s Uomini e donne
by Stefania Carini — Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano
April 20, 2012 – 00:00
Since 1996 the commercial network Canale5 (Mediaset’s main channel) aired Uomini e donne, a talk show about couples and their problems in daytime five days a week. The show was created and hosted by the famous Tv guru Maria De Filippi, herself a sort of Italian Oprah Winfrey, who also created the popular show C’è posta per te and the talent show Amici. From 2001 Uomini e donne became more like a reality show than a talk show: men and women searching for love, meeting each other in the studio and, when “love bursts”, continuing to date in real life, often followed by cameras. The studio audience also discussed their relationship.
Uomini e donne is a hybrid show. It shows common people in a narrative context like a reality show. But it also has the characteristics of a soap opera. So Uomini e donne is like a never-ending reality soap. Thus the program is set up like a talk show with a studio audience invited to comment on the events, a dynamic mirrored and amplified in the audience at home. As a result, Uomini e donne generates a never-ending audiovisual, narrative, discursive flow that goes beyond television. The show can be considered a convergent text since it gives rise to a process of extension that follows two directions.
First, Uomini e donne generates a huge "material overflow," both in the strict sense (audiovisual flow) and in the broadest sense (narrative flow of events, characters, moments). This material can be re-launched non-stop and dispersed in other programs (i.e. Uomini e donne story, a kind of best of) and in other media (websites, gossip magazines), as well as in the "real world" (parties, events where the couples can be special guests). From this, it is also possible to extract some fragments considered of value, which are dispersed, aggregated, re-assembled, mostly by the fans on the web. Second, because of its gossipy nature, Uomini e donne generates an “overflow of communication” on youtube and social networks and on blogs and websites created by fans. They cointain videos of programs, photos, fan art and above all chat, forums, pulls, blogs, comments. Here the fans can discuss the show and the protagonists. These websites allow fans to display their passion and creativeness.
So, Uomini e donne is therefore a "classic" Canale 5, but it also a convergent text because of its nature.
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