Makeover shows : a post-modern analysis

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Stadager, Kristine
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BA (Hons) Media and Marketing Studies
Dublin Business School
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The roles that fashion and identity play in makeover shows will be discussed in relation to post-modernistic society; the society that, some theorists argue, we live in today. The UK based 'What Not to Wear' and the American 'Extreme Makeovers' shows will be analysed and discussed. Despite their common theme, they employ different approaches. The UK show uses non-invasive procedures such as altering participants' fashion to disguise flaws. The American show uses extensive plastic surgery, fitness experts and change in sense of fashion. However, both shows have the same aim and 'grand finale' where the participants reveal their new looks and identity to the world. In addition, this paper will also critically assess the two makeover shows by looking at their narratives, conducting a semiotic analysis and examining the idea of realism in relation to the concept of television. As Abercrombie et al argue with regard to this, television is: 'a window on the world' (1996:27). Are makeover shows a window on the world? If so, how does this tie in with our ideas on post-modernism with respect to the characters involved therein?