reality TV doing well despite bombs; shows condemn contestant’s bad behavior.

reality TV doing well despite bombs; shows condemn contestant’s bad behavior.
Despite a handful of serious bombs over the past six months, The Orlando Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker gives the genre a healthy report card. He talks to network execs who are all optimistic. NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker says, “Unscripted programming is doing incredibly well. American Idol, Survivor, Apprentice, Biggest Loser, Fear Factor, Home Makeover–these are among the biggest shows on television. Reality television has had a very good year.” CBS’ Les Moonves points out the differences between network TV and cable, and admits his network’s most recent mistake: “One episode of CSI is worth more than 300 Queer Eyes. The Will did a great number for cable. If it was on MTV, they’d be dancing down Broadway. … I think The Will was not very good ….. It wasn’t our finest moment. So, once again, as we go forward with our reality shows–and there’s still a place for them–we realize what we have to do.” But the most shocking comment comes from FOX’s Gail Berman, who notes that “The negative is kind of out right now.” She’s apparently forgotten that her network is airing “Stars Without Makeup” on Thursday night, and also apparently missed the first few weeks of Idol 4.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, C.W. Nevius writes that “reality shows have become a national forum for what is acceptable public conduct. Instead of encouraging the worst in contestants (which is what nearly everyone expected), the shows have not only exposed bad behavior, they have scolded it.” He discusses several examples of contestants who are upset with their portrayals, but writes that “the larger issue is more interesting” because “there should have been consequences” to the behavior we see on screen, even if it is a product of editing.

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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, 37, 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.