13: Fear is Real is really scary bad

More than eight years ago, there was a fantastic series on MTV called, simply, Fear. The series featured a lot of scary moments and maybe even some paranomal activity, and although the show exaggerated the truth of its locations, what was clear was that the participants were often scared shitless.

That’s because they were alone, filming themselves (or being filmed by surveillance cameras), and between producers’ instructions to do creepy things and being in dark, creepy locations, they were often terrified, and would quit in the middle of the night. It was genuinely scary, mostly because of what it didn’t show to the contestants or to us.

The CW’s 13: Fear is Real, which debuts Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, is absolutely nothing like that show; all they have in common is a word in their titles. The CW’s competition may be produced by Sam Raimi (“The Evil Dead”) and Jay Bienstock (The Apprentice), but it doesn’t even belong in the same universe as their previous work, in part because it ignores all the rules about what makes something scary. For one, it shows too much and yet not enough to provide any context.

The premise and competition is just stupid. For one, it barely makes sense, and it’s hard to follow what’s going on during their challenges. The editing is nonsensical and attempts to be scary but is instead just disorienting; all of a sudden cast members are tied to chairs in the middle of the woods and are screaming, which is just annoying.

Let’s also not forget that the cast of this show is never alone; can you really be scared–or lost, or even anxious–with a team of camera operators, and probably producers and others standing nearby. One contestant goes to the bathroom by herself, hears someone walking around in the woods–while a camera operator stands just a few feet from her–and then starts crying and screaming for no reason. They all seem like really bad actors.

I’m not going to even start with the cheap-ass $66,666 prize, or the “host,” who’s called “The Mastermind” and has a fake voice that literally caused me to laugh out loud because I thought it was a bad joke. The only people who should be laughing are those who got paid to create this mess.

The Quest ends its journey stronger than it began

Verlox from The Quest

A review of the finale of summer's best reality series, which wasn't always perfect but was thoroughly entertaining right down to the finish, which included phenomenal challenges and special effects. Will ABC give it a second season?

Plus: an interview with the actor who played Verlox and the ogre.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

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.