Clay Aiken and me

A week ago tonight, I dragged a friend with me to the Peace Center in Greenville, SC. My mission, as part of a book I’m working on: See Clay Aiken in concert, and try to understand how he’s become the most popular and most successful reality TV contestant ever. Because, honestly, I’m a pale white boy who can’t dance, too, and millions of people don’t swoon over me. Also, I can’t sing. But I digress.

The performance, part of Clay’s 25-city Jukebox Tour, was full of energy and, honestly, a lot of fun. Go check it out. Just don’t say anything negative about Clay or you’ll find yourself at the bottom of a Claymate pile and wake up in the hospital. (Oh, I kid the fans!)

As I wrote in a piece for MSNBC that starts to explore what I saw, “I don’t know if I’ll ever fully be able to see the Clay phenomenon in exactly the same way [his fans] do. But the performance made it clear that, in this era of manufactured pop, where top-40 music is constructed for the benefit of the audience by marketers and radio station conglomerates, Clay Aiken’s fans believe they have found something real.”

Audience is clay in Aiken’s hands [MSNBC]

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.