2001: the year in reality TV.

2001: the year in reality TV.
The year in reality TV began with the announcement of Survivor 2‘s cast and closed with the death of one of reality TV’s first stars. Although it started with four shows premiering in one week, the year saw many critics and commentators writing the genre off for good. Reality television may have reached its saturation point during 2001, leading to less-than-headline-news ratings, but with more Survivors, another Amazing Race, and even a third U.S. Big Brother on the horizon, it appears as thought it’s going nowhere fast.

Last year at this time, reality blurred looked at the first six months of the reality TV phenomenon via the sites’ archives. Once again, too much happened to summarize here (browse the archives if you want to relive every moment of the year in reality TV, or if you just need something to do at work today), so instead of a recapping or ranking, here’s a non-comprehensive look back at 2001 through the lens of reality television:

  • lather, rinse, repeat: Survivor 2‘s premiere airs and repeats; Fear gets picked up for a full season; Anderson Cooper learns what not to do as host of The Mole from Julie Chen; a second unanimous Survivor 2 vote sends Kel–and his beef jerky–packing.
  • winners and losers: The Village Voice reveals The Mole‘s Jim won a prettiest penis contest–twice; Popstars cuts its hopefuls down five winners; PETA is pissed about the one definite loser of Survivor 2, the (drugged?) pig Mike stabbed to death; New York City gets lucky, once again hosting a crew of seven strangers, picked to live in a house, for The Real World 10; and John de Mol blames a group of loser cast members for the crappiness of the U.S.’ Big Brother.
  • sex and lies on videotape: Survivor 2‘s Kimmi won’t show her private parts to Howard Stern; Temptation Island‘s Mandy rejects Playboy; all three couples of Mandy’s show stay together during the finale, despite the temptation; Survivor‘s host Jeff Probst files for divorce; turns out that Kathryn has been lying throughout The Mole, because she is the mole; and Rich says Greg is a “hottie” and Colby “is dripping with heat.”
  • bizarro world: VH1 gets no viewer complaints about the heavy sex noises during an episode of Bands on the Run; CBS sues FOX over Boot Camp‘s similarities to Survivor; the winner of Survivor 2, Tina, collapses on a plane shortly after winning; Mark Burnett uses stand-ins; The Real World: New Orleans’ Jamie is arrested after hurling himself off the Golden Gate bridge; and Jeff Probst is one of the prettiest people around.
  • a week of irony: reality blurred turns one year old on the exact same day Big Brother 2–and its pay-per-view feeds — debuts; CBS starts casting for The Amazing Race 2 months before The Amazing Race 1 airs; Taco Bell sponsors Murder–in Small Town X, that is; and two men try to break in to the Big Brother house in the UK.
  • feel the love: Jeff Probst gets bit by a scorpion–after being stung in the nether regions by a jellyfish and shocked while peeing on an electric fence during previous seasons; Manhunt debuts, following people being chased by insane, angry men with paint guns; Arnold Shapiro would prefer the audience wasn’t able to watch the web feeds of Big Brother 2‘s action; and Mike Boogie gets booted off Big Brother 2, plus his #1 fan site is launched, mikemalin.com.
  • things have changed: The week starts normally enough, with Survivor and American High winning the first reality TV Emmys, FOX and CBS settling the lawsuit between them, and reality blurred launching a redesign. Then, on Sept. 11, the day Love Cruise was to debut, our televisions were filled not with slutty singles on a ship, but with unexpected, perception-altering images instead, reality in its most raw form. In the aftermath of the attacks, we learned that firefighter and Murder in Small Town X winner Angel Juarbe was one of those rescue workers killed when the World Trade Center collapsed. The cousin of Big Brother 2‘s Monica was also one of the victims of the attacks, but the sequestered house guests were mostly kept in the dark about what happened that day, as were house guests in other Big Brother houses around the world.
  • random couplings: Mike Boogie and Krista, reality TV’s most, uh, [insert fun adjective here] couple, splits–blaming The Amazing Race; the tribes on Survivor Africa switch members, sending the game in a new direction for a while; Temptation Island‘s Shannon and Andy get married; The Real World 12 will be shot in the city of shotgun weddings, Las Vegas; and Michelle Parma of Road Rules fame turns out to be one of ourfirsttime.com’s two fake “virgins.”
  • full circle: Rob and Brennan win The Amazing Race; Popstars 2‘s group’s album debuts, before the group even (officially) has a name; and one of Temptation Island 2‘s ho’s turns out to be also a porn star.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.