rabbi: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Pimp My Ride are both “hip and healing.”

rabbi: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Pimp My Ride are both “hip and healing.”
“I hereby proclaim the Gospel of Pimp My Ride and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. What I see in these two shows is a saving radiant glimmer of how television married to compassion (and a blown 450cc short block engine) can produce programs that are both hip and healing, both popular and profound.” With that, Rabbi Marc Gellman begins an essay in Newsweek about why those two shows, which star “the prophets for this generation of spiritually acceptable television.” At first it’s hard to tell if this is satire or not, especially when he writes sentences like this one: “I have seen the transfixed ecstasy of Pentecostal snake handlers and it is nothing compared to the joy of a guy learning that he now has a bowling ball washer in the trunk of his car.” But then he gets serious and writes that both shows “unselfconsciously obliterate the traditional ways we often treat the poor. First, both shows treat the needy without a hint of condescension or pity. … Also the workers on both shows work with real joy. Charity is often seen as a dutiful burden, but in these cases it is a labor of love.”

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.