Fox Reality’s The Academy debuts tonight

The Academy, a Fox Reality original docudrama series, debuts tonight at 8 p.m. ET. The hour-long, 10-episode series follows a class of recruits over 18 weeks as they train at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Academy.

The network says the show follows “the recruits as they are put through some of the rawest training you’ll ever see on TV,” and lets us meet “a select few of the recruits as they reveal their own real, personal journeys that brought them to The Academy.”

There aren’t as many docudramas being made right now, as networks stick with competition-based shows, so it’s great to see a new show that exists only to illustrate part of the world we normally don’t get to see. The Academy injects viewers right into the middle of the training, and no one seems to be playing to the cameras, so it really is insightful.

The first episode mostly consists of instructors screaming at the recruits, which is to be expected, since this is basically boot camp. The problem, however, is that the show starts slowly and doesn’t give us much to do except watch more screaming, which isn’t very entertaining after a few minutes.

The recruits who get personal attention from the editors are kind of flat and boring, and the one who eventually quits isn’t given nearly enough screen time for us to care or even remember who s/he is. The deputies do their best to explain/justify their methods during interviews. Because they’re competent, capable officers, they not TV stars, and thus aren’t immediately engaging enough for us to connect with them, either.

Late in the hour, Deputy Sherrod appears in an interview, and addresses the camera like she’s conversing with people on their couches, rather than talking through someone’s window at a traffic stop. She explains part of the training in a compelling way and seems absolutely human. Hopefully, future episodes have more of her, introduce us to recruits who are more engaging, and feature less screaming.

The Academy [Fox Reality]

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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, 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.