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?”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.