American Candidate debuts on Sunday.

American Candidate debuts on Sunday.
Almost two and a half years after plans for a very different show on a different network were announced, American Candidate will debut Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime. Ten candidates with varying backgrounds in politics will compete for $200,000 and a speech in front of the country. The series involves both political challenges and viewer voting. “For the first seven weeks, one will be eliminated via a political challenge and debate in taped episodes, then viewers get to vote for two rounds,” USA TODAY says. As Aaron Barnhart points out in his report on the series, the show “will not actually help the winner of its TV competition run for president. The Web site states the contest will select one person ‘who has the qualities to be president of the United States.’ Nothing more.” Still, producer RJ Cutler tells the paper that creating the series was “a journey–I can’t tell you how many times it seemed the obvious choice to say, ‘My goodness, we’re just not going to pull it off.'” In its review, The Hollywood Reporter wishes that “Showtime and Cutler had marketed the series as yet another reality game show with some political overtones and not tried to sell it as some noble experiment in political science, [because then] we could enjoy it for the pleasant diversion that it is.” The New York Times says that the candidates are “standard-issue American superachievers. And that’s kind of too bad.” And The New York Daily News says that the show “focuses almost entirely on the media events of a campaign. Absent are the boring real-life essentials of nuts-and-bolts strategizing and fund-raising.”

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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.