Top Chef 3 concludes live tonight, followed by Bravo’s debut of Better Half

Bravo’s Top Chef 3 concludes tonight with a live finale from Chicago, the setting for the fourth season, which recently started production. Three actually talented chefs remain: Casey Thompson, Dale Levitski, and Hung Huynh. For the first time, the show will have a non-heterosexual male winner (Casey is female, Dale is gay, and Hung is bisexual).

Top Chef 3 has managed to recover from its ridiculous second season. While there hasn’t been an absence of drama, cooking has remained the focus, not ridiculous frat house hazing. While Hung is often annoying–the editors delight in juxtaposing his cocky grandstanding against his failures–he’s also talented, and he’s nowhere near as arrogant as last season’s finalists. Although the quickfire challenges were often an excuse to promote a paid sponsor’s brand, they were innovative and made good television, like when the chefs had to cook airline food on an actual plane. And Padma Lakshmi remains one of the best competitive reality show hosts. (Still, there’s plenty of material for Amuse-Biatch to use to hysterically harass the show.)

The finale will be 75 minutes long, keeping viewers around for the debut of Bravo’s Better Half, a series that watches “the spouses/mates of two trained professionals square-off in competition” after being trained in that profession by their partners. It’s hosted by Susie Essman, best known for screaming obscenities on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Top Chef 3 and Better Half [Bravo]

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.