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443: Make Over

Have you ever tried a make-over?

Full episode script

The introductory description of the 2009 book Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity by Brenda R. Weber begins with the statement that

In 2004, roughly 25 makeover-themed reality shows aired on U.S. television. By 2009, there were more than 250, from What Not to Wear and The Biggest Loser to Dog Whisperer and Pimp My Ride. The genre is unified by its contradictions: to uncover your “true self,” you must be reinvented; to be empowered, you must surrender to experts; to be special, you must look and act like everyone else.

There’s a narrative about make-overs that permeates the whole idea of changing everything about yourself — as the book Makeover TV and dozens of academic papers (as well as thinkpieces about makeover shows) — points out, the idea of a makeover is often based not in a personal desire to change because you want to explore something new. It’s usually based on one of two things — either external factors that are forcing a change, or on the importance of listening to someone else so your external communication can be that of someone who is upwardly mobile. It’s, in short, ,the “American Dream” argues Weber in her book — that with enough hard work, perseverance, self-awareness, and surrender to others, anyone can achieve fame, fortune, or the most awesome car on the block.

As Revelist author Mary Anderson put it in her article about movie makeovers:

In movies, women aren’t usually the ones enacting these makeovers — they’re usually persuaded to have one to fit a certain “ideal.” Oftentimes, at the beginning of the films, the women are satisfied being themselves, and usually it’s the person performing the makeover who needs a change. Although makeover montages are fun, audiences deserve a better message than the same old tired baloney. It’s 2017. We’re sick of this.

Outside of film and TV, the trope of the makeover is still strong. That perhaps, just perhaps, by changing something external, you might be able to change something internal. It may work and change something , or it may not. But that’s a discussion for another episode, should you care to dig through the archives.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.