Reality TV


Reality TV has come a long way since the Newlywed Game.  Now there are reality TV shows for every demographic and every preference.  Intellectuals can match wits with 5th graders and gossips can get the real story on To Tell the Truth.  Voyeurs can watch house guests 24 x 7 on Big Brother and adventurers learn what it takes to Survive. 


Survivor began in 2000, the brain child of creator Mark Burnett, and an uncertain audience embraced the show, much to the surprise and delight of execs at CBS.  The premise was simple – take a group of people and put them in a deserted local.  Force them to pick each other off one by one until the last man (or woman) standing is awarded $1 million.  I don’t know if Burnett expected the contestants to devolve so quickly or not, but the effects of the experience are fascinating to watch. 


Survivor was the first to showcase people out of their element, living together and getting real.  The Real World aired on MTV in 1992, with seven strangers living together in one house.  The show finds a new generation of fans each year and casting continues to find the most extreme personalities to ensure loads of DRAMA.  They have a formula that works.  Mix equal one of each: a homosexual, a Christian, a wild girl, a player, a loyal boyfriend, a brown skinned person and a racist, stir in alcohol, place in an exotic local and allow to simmer.  Then just sit back and enjoy. 


After Survivor’s success, every network scrambled to put a reality TV show on the air.  Some were good:  The Amazing Race, The Mole, The Apprentice, Biggest Loser and some were bad: My Big Fat Obnoxious Finance, Pirate Master and Fat March.


Most will fall into certain categories.  Survivor’s motto for example, is out wit, out play, out last.  It’s all about the competition, playing to win, using strategy to manipulate others.  The Amazing Race and The Mole also require mental and physical abilities to succeed.  The viewers gets a chance to know the competitors, to hear their back story, and meet (through TV at least) their family and friends. 


Another group of shows will showcase a specific skill, such as; modeling, decorating, singing, acting, designing clothes or even cutting hair.  Contestants are looking for their big break and compete for a cash prize or employment contract.  I think The Apprentice started the movement of career centric shows.  Contestants vied for an opportunity to work with The Donald and after seemingly impossible challenges they would be called to the board room and one player would be eliminated.  I think the Donald has trademarked his catch phrase “You’re Fired.”  One of my favorite shows in this category was the short lived (one season so far) show On the Lot.  Aspiring directors created short films each week hoping for the opportunity to work at DreamWorks for a year. 


There are makeover shows, from Biggest Loser to the Swan.  The Biggest Loser stands out because the contestants really work hard to make amazing transformations.  Other makeover shows are inspiring because of the end result, not necessarily the process. 


There are day in the life reality TV shows which basically follow people around while they live their life or do their job.  No challenges, no prize at the end, just a fascinating glimpse into the way other people live.  Sometimes the show will center on an individual like Hogan Knows Best or Hey Paula or it might be based on a group of people who work together, such as: Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, LA Ink or Ace of Cakes.  


And then, of course, there are all the dating and relationship shows.  Love found on the Bachelor and love lost on Temptation Island.  There’s a huge variety of shows in this category too.  VH1 has claimed a niche with their Celebreality catering to D or E list celebs like Flavor Flav or Bret Michaels.  MTV jumped on board with A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.  I shudder to think who’ll be next – Andy Dick?  Tara Reid? Courtney Love?


I for one will be there to watch. 


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Reality TV Wrap Up 18APR08

Biggest Loser had a big finale and the first female winner.  The contestants looked amazing.  Especially Bernie, Brittany, Ali and Kelly. Roger, Mark and Dan all looked about the same as when they left campus.  They lost a lot of weight, but it just wasn’t as dramatic as the others.  I was so impressed with Kelly throughout the show. She was an underdog throughout the competition and she made it to the end.  Paul didn’t show up due to illness.


Big Brother – Sheila won HOH (well, sort of) and she was able to pull of her objective of ousting Natalie (well, sort of) thus securing her place in the final three (well, you know). The boys, Ryan and Adam had plans of their own. They called out Natalie in a house meeting, forcing her to choose a side once and for all. Since only the boys were voting she naturally declared her allegiance to them.  Then they split the vote and let Sheila do the dirty work.  Ryan won HOH and stayed true to his buddy Adam, nominating Sharon and Sheila.


American Idol had a diva-licious night with Mariah Carey mentoring the young wannabe’s.  The best line of the night was Paula declaring Mariah can be proud of the legacy she’s left for all the young singers coming up.  I don’t think Mariah realized she was an older singer yet. David Cook received a standing O from Randy. David Archuleta and Jason Castro also had strong nights.  As usual, Simon was particularly tuff on Carly Smithson. He softened the blows when he explained it was tough love.  Kristy Lee Cook was booted, but I’m sure she’ll have a brilliant career in Branson.


Survivor is always unpredictable and this week proved it once again. Jason bargained away an opportunity for individual immunity when he was offered sweets, pizza and beer for himself and the tribe.  Despite everyone’s promise to keep him another week, Ozzy, Amanda, James and Erik had every intention of voting him off the island.  Instead, Cirie turned things around and made a play to pull out Ozzy’s immunity idol.  Ozzy was too comfortable with his tribe and didn’t play the idol. He was voted out.  James is finally off the hook as the dumbest player in history.  They’re at least tied.

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Reality Wrap Up 11APR08


Biggest Loser is nearing the end. There are just four contestants remaining: Roger, Mark, Ali and Kelly.  Usually the final four have one more elimination before they go home and starve themselves in anticipation of the final weigh in. This year, America will decide who is eliminated.  Roger and Mark fell below the yellow line, so they’re in jeopardy.  This week had the biggest weight loss numbers since the beginning of the show, and both Roger and Ali broke show records.  Roger has lost the most weight on campus (beating out Neal by 1 pound) and Ali has lost the most weight of any female competitor while on campus.  I can hardly wait for the finale Tuesday night.  It is jaw dropping to see the players return; they’re barely recognizable.  I’m rooting for Kelly, just because she’s been the underdog the entire season.


Big Brother 9 – Adam won HOH after Joshuah’s eviction.  Natalie and Ryan were jumping for joy because they have another shot at getting rid of James.  James is cracking under the stress and isolation. He breaks down and cries a few times, including a heart wrenching plea to Adam.  James begs for a chance to redeem himself, and Adam gives it to him. Sharon and Sheila go up on the block, which pisses everyone off.  Adam wonders if he did the wrong thing, but it’s too late to do anything about it.  Ryan won the POV and Sharon off the block, so James went up anyway.  He was evicted.  We finally got a chance to see Matt, Chelsia and Joshuah in sequester.  I hope they show James’ arrival Sunday night.  Chelsia is going to have a fit.  The HOH competition is an endurance challenge, so we won’t know who won until Sunday. 


(Spoiler Alert – Sheila won HOH so it’s anyone’s guess who she’ll put up.)


American Idol –The contestants had to selection songs that inspired them and they had surprisingly uninspired performances.  Jason Castro, David Archuleta and Syesha Mercado had strong performances, but the rest were just so so.  Maybe everyone was stressed and overworked because they had to perform for American Idol gives back too.  Michael John’s was eliminated, to a chorus of boos from the audience.  I personally think the ascot was his undoing. 


Survivor – The tribes merge and the men compare who has the biggest….stick.  Ozzy planted a fake immunity idol which Jason took for real. When it looked like Eliza was going to be voted out, he offered her the idol.  They planned to blindside Ozzy at tribal council, but things didn’t quite work out.  Eliza realized right away that the idol was a fake.  It was too late for her to save herself, but she played the idol so she could call Ozzy out at tribal council.  This was one of the funniest episodes EVER!


Beauty and the Geek – I haven’t watched the episode yet, but I did find a great recap @  Looks like we’ll get to see more of Gaysian Greg this week, yippy!  And less giddy up from cowboy Joe. 



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Big Brother 9

Big Brother 9 premieres February 12. Guess I know what I’ll be doing that night. I’ll be watching the Beautiful and the Plastic….no hints on who’s who. For those of you who can’t wait another week for a sneak peek, here’s a look at the incoming houseguests.

































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Reality Wrap Up – 01FEB08

Here is a recap of the reality shows I watched this week.  A few shows are ending, but we have Survivor and Big Brother coming up in February.    

American Idol – Omaha Auditions.  There some really interesting characters in Bum**ck, America and they all came out to see dim prutty lights and shiny people.  Chris Bernheisel opened the show, and he was just like OMG, the cutest thing EVER.  He was so full of happiness he was about to burst and dribble little bits of cheer all over the stage.  He brought stuffed animals for Randy and Paula, and a T-shirt for Simon to stuff himself.   

Biggest Loser – Paul and Kelly feel pangs of guilt (short lived I’m sure) for voting out Bette Sue and Ali.  The game is now an individual competition to stay, even though teams are still put below the yellow line. Bobby puts on his game face when he and Jillian have to compete in a challenge to choose up teams.  He went’ for all the heavy hitters (pun intended) and Jillian was seeing Red…opps I mean Black.  The house is once again divided into Black and Blue Teams. 

American Idol – Miami Auditions.  Half these contestants didn’t know the meaning of the word, No, so I’m not sure what language they were speaking.  Apparently they speak Delusional fluently.  Shannon McGough has won singing competitions and she is primed to take the AI title.  Too bad she sounds like a squeling pig during her audition.   BTW, the meaty references are my pathetic reference to her family’s butcher shop.  Hey, I have to try. 

 Janice Dickinson’s Modeling Agency – Janice has had it up to her lifted eye lids with Peter.  He butted in to the Ed Hardy casting and the clients are annoyed with his lack of organization.  Heads are going to roll!  But first, we get to see the models let loose in Sin City.  Just kidding, Janice has them all on a very tight leash.  JP gave Rodrigo the cold shoulder after their double date, which was the only drama.  Kehoe finally got up the never to ask Traci on a date, only to realize it was too late, Nathan got to her first. Bummer! 

Crowned – And the winner is…The show went out with a whimper, not that it came in with a roar. In fact I doubt we’ll see a Season 2 of this shockingly dull show.  You would think there would be more delicious drama with all those divas in the house, because honestly, watching the beauty pageant portion is painful and boring. 

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Survivor: Micronesia


Of all the reality shows on TV these days, Survivor is the grand daddy.  Survivor: Micronesia , Fans versus Favorites, will be the 16th installment of the series.  Mark Burnett has had a few other successful shows, but none compare to this proven winner.  In fact, CBS signed up for two more seasons, which is happy news for die hard fans. Somehow, the harsh conditions, difficult challenges, blood thirsty contestants, never get old. 


The Fans 

Alexis Jones (24) A Motivational Speaker and Image Consultant originally from Austin, TX.   

Chet Welch (48) Pharmaceutical Customer Service Rep; Beauty pageant coach.  Watch for underhanded tricks from this seasoned pro – he has coached the most ruthless competitors ever, beauty queens. Eek! 

Erik Reichenbach (22) Artist and student of Eastern Michigan University.  He’s single and lives with two cats and a corn snake, so he should feel right at home. 

Jason Siska (20) Student teacher and Gymnastics Coach 

Joel Anderson (32) Avondale Fireman.  No doubt, he’ll heat things up. 

Kathy Sleckman (45) Golf Course Employee, Illinois. 

Mary Sartain (29) Loan Broker 

Michael Bortone (33) Writer/Actor 

Natalie Bolton (31) Model, personal trainer, bartender from Houston, Texas 

Tracy Hughes-Wolf (43) Home builder 


The Faves 

Ami Cusack (34) Nanny, last seen on Survivor Vanuatu leading the charge of Amazon women versus men. When the men finally came to camp in the merge, the alliance crumbled and a man, Chris, was the sole survivor.

Cirie Fields (35) Nurse, Panama

Eliza Orlins (25) Law Student, Vanuatu

James Clement (30) Grave Digger and contestant of Survivor China.  He had two immunity idols and was still voted out.  I bet he won’t hesitate to use immunity this time around.

Jonathan Penner (35) A TV writer/producer who got plenty of material after his brief stay on Cook Islands.

Jonny Fairplay (33) Infamous Pearl Island villain whose career is now “Reality Show Contestant”.  He just became a new daddy (mommy is fellow Reality TV wanna be ….)  I wonder if we’ll see a sweeter side of this despicable dude.

Ozzy Lusth (26) Photographer and writer.  During Cook Islands’ challenges, he displayed impressive swimming and climbing skills. 

Parvati Shallow (25) Waitress and Model. She took flirting to win on Cook Islands to new heights, but flirting when you smell like a monkey can only take you so far

.Yau-Man Chan (55) IT geek who kept the car curse alive, even though  he didn’t keep the car. 

Amanda Kimmel (23) She played second fiddle to master mind Todd in China, but maybe this season she’ll finish first.

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Reality Wrap Up – 25JAN08

Here is a recap of the reality shows I watched this week.  There is just so much TV, and so little time. 

The Amazing RaceSeason 12 Finale. TK and Rachel made it to the finish line first and won a cool million.  I have to say this season was a little dull because there were no Jonathon’s, Rob’s, or Alison’s to despise.  All the teams were pretty decent, with occasional b**chy moments.  Ronald was too hard on Christina for most of the race, but he settled down by the end.  Jennifer was mean to Nate, but I think he liked it, so who am I to judge?  TK and Rachel were mellow through the game.  I think Rachel only had one break down when she had to milk a camel.  She lost it when she realized it was boy camel.  They definitely prove that you don’t have to freak out and become a raving lunatic attacking innocent taxi drivers to win.   Congrats you two – most excellent.

 The Amazing Race - Season 12 Finale. TK and Rachel

American Idol – San Diego Auditions.  The few notable auditions included Valerie Reyes, who is Mariah Carey’s biggest fan and thought she could do the songstress proud.  Uh, not so much.  I laughed out loud when realization set in for Valerie and she said “oh my God, now I’m going to be one of the bad auditions.” At least she still has one foot planted firmly in reality. A surprisingly good audition was given by David Archuleta.  He’s only 16, but has already experienced highs and lows in during his short career, including vocal paralysis.  He seems to have recovered though because he sounded great.

David Archuleta American Idol

Biggest Loser – The house votes for a second team in the elimination room, Paul and Kelly.  Instead of going home, the yellow team must compete with the rest of the house. The other teams combine their weight lose and must have a higher percentage of weight lose to send Paul and Kelly home.  Or, Paul and Kelly can send one team packing. Before the weigh in, alliances are formed and the orange, blue and purple teams kept the team weight loss down.

American Idol – Charleston Auditions. Another Idol baby!  Oliver Highman was preparing to audition when his wife went into labor and they rushed off to find a hospital.  He made it back just in time to sing for the judges.  He didn’t make it through, but what a story to tell his baby girl.  Another couple will have an interesting story to tell their little ones.  Crystal Ortiz and Randy Stark met on the Idol web board and fell in love.  They auditioned together and while they didn’t make sweet music together, there may be a happy ending.    

American Idol – Charleston Auditions. Another Idol baby!  Oliver Highman

Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency – Janice declares the agency is fur free and brings PeTA in to show gruesome videos. The models are motivated to join in a protest on Hollywood Blvd. They strip down to underwear and Brian Kehoe moons the cops.  Janice then goes in for a tummy tuck. 

Crowned – Questions and Answers.  The girls have to host a party and display their charms. The surprise guests are all the men in their lives so the women are more charming then usual.  They then have to charm the judges during an interview.  Hollis and Gina do really well because they’re so earnest and energetic.   

Gina and Hollis Crowned

 Project Runway – The designers have to create a look using Levis.  Rami finally does a different dress using different fabrics.  Ricky finally impressed the judges but not his competition. Christian is annoyed the Ricky is still around but Kit was eliminated.  Christian just likes to talk a lot of smack.

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