Paolo d’Urbano

Panel 5F: Transcoding Television
Session 5 – July 3, 11:00 – 13:00

Uomini&Donne and the Making of True Love™

During the last decades Maria De Filippi has become one of the most influential figures in the Italian media landscape. Through her TV production company, Fascino PGT, she launched a series of highly successful TV formats such as Amici, C’è Posta per Te and Uomini&Donne. This paper looks at the latter TV show, Uomini&Donne (U&D), from a materialist point of view and examines how the stories it tells and personalities it creates travel and expand across multiple media outlets.

The dating show is the longest-running among De Filippi’s shows. It is on air five days a week in the afternoon since 1996 and now targets a highly diversified audience segment, from teenagers to adults. This is also due to some changes that were introduced in the format. Initially conceived around the interactions between the Tronista and his/her Corteggiatori/trici, some episodes are now entirely devoted to over-30/40 participants looking for a love relationship. The show combines signature aesthetic features from different TV genres and produces print, broadcast and digital content. Stories may even turn into novels and fotoromanzo-styled fodder for tabloid-like dedicated magazines. After an initial phase marked by a degree of skepticism towards digital media, U&D established a strong online presence and eventually launched a digital platform (Witty TV) where users can access all the episodes.

Building on Murray’s materialist analysis of adaptation in contemporary cultural industries (2012), this paper takes De Filippi’s flagship product as a case study and argues that televised episodes always play the role of original/authentic text even though U&D is heavily reliant upon contemporary forms of immaterial/affective labour (cast and crew, audiences and users). Audiences’ labour in particular (Smythe 1977; Andrejevic 2008) plays a key role as they are constantly called to validate the quality of the end product, its aura of authenticity. At the end of the
journey, Love must be True™.


Paolo d’Urbano has a PhD in Media Studies (SOAS) and is
currently a precarious researcher. He was Assistant Professor at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies (Qatar) and worked as lecturer at SOAS and Chester University. His research interests revolve around cultural studies, digital media and social movements. Email: