CMT’s Popularity Contest debuts, Sundance’s Staircase continues tonight.

CMT’s Popularity Contest debuts, Sundance’s Staircase continues tonight.

CMT debuts its original reality series Popularity Contest tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET, repeating it Tuesday at 8 and Wednesday at 6. The series watches as “10 city slickers chuck the bright lights and the big city to immerse themselves in small town life as they compete to be named the town’s ‘most popular’ resident.”

They’ll move to Vega, Texas, for a month, competing in community service-oriented challenges and will be eliminated one by one by the residents. One will with $100,000, and that person will award a cash prize to the local resident he or she likes the best.

Meanwhile, the Sundance Channel’s four-week, eight chapter documentary series The Staircase continues tonight at 9 p.m. ET. (The first two chapters reair Friday at 8, followed by chapters 3 and 4.) Produced by Oscar-winning director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the show “chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife.” As Sundance says, the filmmakers had “unusual access to Peterson’s lawyers and his immediate family.”

Salon’s Heather Havrilesky calls the series “unforgettable” and says it’s an “engrossing and ultimately tragic story,” while The AP’s critic said it “is one of the best TV programs I have ever seen.”

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.