We are closer than ever to the lives of celebrities. In the age of social media, anyone with internet access can virtually step inside the closet of one of the Kardashian sisters or witness Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck cuddling with the world. Through this digital window, one can feel closer to their idols and believe that they know them better, as well as glimpse a reality that is light years away from the life of any ordinary person. And that insatiable interest to always know more —what do you think? how they live? What are your concerns?—is one of the reasons for the success of reality shows and documentaries (or docuseries, when broadcast in episodes) starring celebrities. The examples number in the dozens. 2022 ended with the vaunted documentary of Harry and Meghan, aired on Netflix. And 2023 starts with two highlights: the three-hour documentary by Pamela Anderson and the announcement of the second season of the reality by Georgina Rodríguez, which opens in March (both on the same platform).
“It is a global trend that has existed for a long time,” explains Gloria Saló, director of production and content consulting at the Audiovisual Communication Studies Office (Geca), who qualifies that “since there are so many screens, with the advent of platforms They can produce much more content. In other words, the rise of these characters comes from there, from the fact that there are many more possibilities to produce content”. The themes are varied and address fields as diverse as music (Taylor Swift, Omar Montes or Amaia are some of the artists with their own documentary) or sport (David Beckham has been the last to join and is preparing a docuseries with Netflix).
In Spain, there is also a pull between the stars of the social chronicle. I’m Georgina, the Netflix docuseries produced by Komodo Studio with Georgina Rodríguez as the protagonist, reached the third global position within the platform in the first week of its premiere. In addition, it remained among the 10 most watched programs worldwide for three consecutive weeks, data that has supported the confirmation of a second season. With Tamara Falcó: The Marchioness, launched last August, the platform revalidated its commitment within the category. In this type of hybrid format, halfway between the reality and the documentary, the character is not only in front of the camera, but is involved in all stages. That is, the famous, or in these cases famous, is an active part of the entire process, including the content, the tone, the script…
“The degree of participation of the characters is total, from pre-production we work hand in hand since we are telling their lives and no one better than them to do it,” explains Javier Tomás, from Komodo Studio and producer of the reality by Georgina Rodriguez and Tamara Falco. And she underlines the absolute “freedom” they have had when creating their series. “In this sense, we have people close to the character to advise us on certain aspects of their lives that we may not know about,” she points out. It must be borne in mind that this type of production, unlike the traditional documentary, offers a limited vision of the character. Basically, the image that the celebrity seeks to project is transmitted, and not another.
From one screen to another
The world of social networks has recently become a very fruitful quarry when looking for profiles that will star in their own documentary or reality. The Italian Chiara Ferragni triumphed in 2019 with Unposted (Prime Video), a documentary about her rise to fame and the fashion industry. It worked so well that in 2021 the platform launched The Ferragnez, focused this time on the family life of the businesswoman. In the United States, generation Z star Charli D’Amelio has already filmed two seasons of The D’Amelio Show (Disney+). And in Spain, the tiktoker lola lolita and his sister Sofia Surfers just opened The queens of TikTok on Prime Video. On that same platform you can see sweet nakedthe docuseries by Aida Domènech, one of the first influencers who succeeded in Spain. Domènech worked closely with the team and assures that she was “very involved from the beginning”. Family, friends and colleagues share personal testimonials to help understand Dulceida’s life behind the screen. She “wanted it to be as real as possible, to be dynamic, and most of all, to be entertaining for the people who were going to see it. I have been very lucky because they have allowed me to get involved in the whole process and I have been able to make decisions together with the filming crew”, the businesswoman and content creator comments to EL PAÍS.
The public to whom these audiovisual products are directed are not exclusively their fans, although it goes without saying that the more famous the celebrity, the greater the audience they will reap. As Gloria Saló maintains, this is one of the keys to the success of the format: “Since they are famous, well-known characters, you already have a part made in order to promote the interest of the spectators.” Fans are, of course, an appreciative audience, but the challenge is capturing the attention of those outside of the character. Aida Domènech, 33, explains that in the case of her docuseries, it was made “thinking of being able to explain what is behind the work of a influencers”. “And how in my case”, continues the Barcelonan, “I combine it with my day to day. It is a content that was thought for everyone, fans and people who do not know me. We always kept in mind that whoever saw it could enjoy a good documentary, that was our common goal”.
Another aspect behind the growing popularity of the format has to do with the reality component of what is told. The celebrity “is going to tell his story,” says Saló. And he continues: “They are true stories, and one of the big trends right now is the issue of reality.” “The fact that something is based on true events draws the viewer’s attention. The other leg of the reality trend is the biopicmany fictions are being produced in which the lives of well-known characters are told ”, he reflects.
Ever since the Kardashian family, and before them, the Osbournes, revolutionized turn-of-the-century reality television with a perfect mix of wackiness, controversy, drama, and comedy (intentional or not), the possibilities have multiplied. The documentary, docuseries or reality Starring celebrities pleases all parties. On the one hand, to audience-hungry platforms. On the other, to the celebrity who finds his best advertising campaign in these contents. The trend will continue to grow in 2023, with names like Robbie Williams or Pamela Anderson willing to tell their story in the first person in projects that will be released in the coming months. The classic autobiography with a stamp celebrities It is now presented in audiovisual format.
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