A&E’s Random 1 debuts tonight

A&E gets into the feel-good reality TV subgenre tonight with the debut of Random 1 at 10 p.m. ET. Hosts and friends Andre and John travel around the country and perform random acts of kindness with the help of a team. Think My Name is Earl plus Three Wishes minus Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Compared to the overproduced quality of those other shows, though, the new series looks almost homemade. On tonight’s episode, a one-legged homeless man who has a bad prosthetic leg and no job plus a history of DWIs. Unlike Amy Grant’s operation, the team finds their mark on the side of the road, not after an organized media stunt. Throughout the episode, they try to find a new leg for him, and help another woman along the way.

The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley says the show “doesn’t manufacture its miracles. It offers small, random acts of kindness, and that is sometimes a much better deal.” However, The Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Richmond says “there isn’t much here in the way of inspiration or suspense. It’s also destined to end minus any real closure”; instead, there’s just “contrived interplay behind the scenes between our two humanitarian heroes as well as the stressed-out, anxious producers.”

Random 1 [A&E]
discussion by

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.