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.”

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.