(dram.AL.uh.tee) n. A television show or series that includes elements of both drama and reality programming. —adj.

Example Citation:
As crack TV's popularity spreads, so does the dueling punditry over whether it's a brilliant new form of spectacle — the Coliseum updated for the 21st century — or the entertainment equivalent of the Ebola virus...

In one corner are hip academics, already scribbling scholarly essays proclaiming brilliance — the way Camille Paglia did about Madonna in the '80s. "Dramalities," they say, are satiating people's needs for sanitized gossip, Peeping Tomism, and the pathetic desire to feel superior. The programs' unrehearsed moments are like visual jazz, appealing to the near-universal desire to be on TV in a country where there is no greater achievement. ...

In the opposite corner are those who decry the phenomenon as the fulfillment of Edward R. Murrow's dark prophecy: "This instrument [television] can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."
—Michelle Conlin, "America's Reality-TV Addiction," Business Week Online, January 30, 2003

Earliest Citation:
[Survivor] is "Gilligan's Island" meets "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" meets "Lord of the Flies," with an emphasis on the primitive behavior of the novel. The show's producer, Mark Burnett, says that while "Survivor" has the trappings of a game show, it is "mostly a psychological story." He says he thinks of the "Survivor" genre as "dramality" because it's "drama meets reality" (and not, of course, because of the pun on "malady").
—Matthew Gilbert, "We like to watch," The Boston Globe, May 28, 2000

In the insular world of TV programmers, the word dramality has already achieved "term of art" status (of course I'm using "art" here in the broadest sense of the term). Witness the casual way the following press release wields this new word:

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL is produced by Mok Entertainment in association with Ty Ty Baby Productions. The executive producers are Ken Mok ("Making the Band") and Tyra Banks. The dramality was created by Banks and developed by Mok and Kenya Barris.
—"UPN Unveils Panel of Expert Judges For 'AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL,' a Dramality Series to Determine The Nation's Next Supermodel," PRNewswire, January 12, 2003

For word hounds, dramality is just the latest in a long line of words and phrases that have vied for the standard descriptor of shows such as Survivor, The Bachelor, and Joe Millionaire. Some other contenders that have come and gone are reality drama, unscripted nonfiction drama, nonscripted programming, alternative TV, and peeping Tom TV. (I like crack TV, used in the example citation.) Fittingly, dramality was coined by the guy who started it all (at least in the U.S.): Mark Burnett, creator of Survivor.

Related Words: