critic Heather Havrilesky: reality TV offers a “chance to glimpse something true.”

critic Heather Havrilesky: reality TV offers a “chance to glimpse something true.”
Salon’s TV critic Heather Havrilesky writes a thorough, well-argued, well-supported, possibly definitive defense of reality TV, basically telling those arrogant high-brow twits who bitch about reality TV to shut up–but in 2,933 words. Along the way, she dissects what’s wrong with TV today, concluding that “it’s not the basic format of the traditional sitcom or drama that’s to blame, it’s the lack of original, high-quality writing.” On some reality TV shows, she writes, we get “exactly the kinds of fresh, surprising characters that most sitcoms and dramas lack.” She credits Mark Burnett with providing a quality alternative to “claustrophobic, repetitive, aesthetically irritating shows” that are “the work of sensationalistic producers churning out trash for a quick buck.” Her conclusion sums it all up, which is a good thing for a conclusion to do: “Lowbrow or not, all most of us want from TV is the chance to glimpse something true, just a peek at those strange little tics and endearing flaws that make us human. While the networks’ safe little formulas mostly seem devoid of such charms, reality shows have the power to amuse, anger, appall, surprise, but most of all, engage us. Isn’t that the definition of entertainment?”

Survivor San Juan Del Sur's dark cloud is lifted

John Rocker

In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.

Why Dick Donato left Big Brother 13

Dick Donato

The Big Brother villain known as "Evel Dick" has finally revealed why he left the show during its 13th season: he learned he was HIV positive.

Also: Dick claims he had no choice but to leave the game.

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.