Roses and thorns: Political talk in reality TV subreddits

Amanda Chen, Katherine T. McCabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Most online media consumption is not driven by a desire to seek out news and politics. However, the public may still encounter politics because it arises organically in communities devoted to non-political subjects. This study examines the potential of popular reality television online discussion forums to serve as online third spaces and stimulate political discussion due to the natural connections that audiences make between the cast members and “real life” in reality-based programming. Based on a quantitative analysis of political comments made to reality television subreddits and a survey of visitors to a popular subreddit focused on The Bachelor television show, the findings not only demonstrate the ability of entertainment-focused online communities to expose a broad segment of the public to political talk, but also point to the obstacles in promoting political discussion that is simultaneously enjoyable, informative, and tolerant of diverse viewpoints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3491-3513
Number of pages23
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Entertainment
  • political discussion
  • political engagement
  • social media
  • toxicity


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