More than any other form of media, reality television has reignited interest in celebrity discourse because of the genre’s incorporation of ordinary people and the conflation of ordinariness with raw, real emotion. This article argues that reality TV is part of an emerging “emotion economy” that generates unique forms of celebrity by producing and circulating heightened emotional performances as “branded affect.” A key signifier of what reality TV is and is becoming, branded affect underscores the commodification of emotion in the contemporary media landscape and the changing nature and meaning of celebrity.

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