The year in reality TV, 2007

Despite all the predictions–or hopes–about its eventual downfall, reality TV is finishing its seventh year as a staple on network prime-time television. On cable, many networks have all but given their entire schedules over to unscripted programming. The quality of these shows ranges as much as their popularity, but nearly all of them offered something to talk about in 2007.

From Sanjaya and that bawling little girl to Charla’s triumphant return to The Amazing Race, there were plenty of noteworthy moments, whether they were shocking, awe-inspiring, or just weird. But beyond that Best Week Ever bait, some highlights and lowlights showed up repeatedly, often in different shows on different networks.

Here are those trends that I noticed in reality television this past year. Have a terrific rest of your 2007, and I’ll be back in 2008, ready for a writers’ strike-saturated market full of material for next year’s year-end lists.

Survivor San Juan Del Sur's dark cloud is lifted

John Rocker

In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.


Why Dick Donato left Big Brother 13

Dick Donato

The Big Brother villain known as "Evel Dick" has finally revealed why he left the show during its 13th season: he learned he was HIV positive.

Also: Dick claims he had no choice but to leave the game.

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.