Slate critic: “On reality television, fat people are the new gay people.”

Slate critic: “On reality television, fat people are the new gay people.”
Slate’s Dana Stevens/Liz Penn (two names are better than one) argues that “[o]n reality television, fat people are the new gay people.” After abandoning mocking the gays, she says “the evil forces that plot new reality shows have now turned their attention to a new sideshow attraction: the overweight.” Her evidence includes NBC’s The Biggest Loser, VH1’s Flab to Fab, and Top Model‘s Toccara, which all “share a deep ambivalence toward excess flesh, seeking to eliminate it even as they depend on it for their very existence.” In these shows, she says executives “have created reality programming that capitalizes on Americans’ fear and hatred of their bodies, making the differently sized the stars of a freak show.” She writes that “sacrificial calf” Toccara faced challenges that “blatantly handicap heavier women” as she “simultaneously represented the identification with larger-sized bodies and the cultural need to punish those who possess them.”

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.