Family reality show woes: Shark Tank now beating CBS’ weak There Goes the Neighborhood after NBC’s Road Trip ends

Last November, CBS paid “a premium fee” for Mike Fleiss’ reality show There Goes the Neighborhood, according to Variety. Was it worth it? And why didn’t either of the two family-focused reality shows catch on this summer, especially since at least one was highly anticipated?

Last night, 3.91 million people watched CBS’ walled-off neighborhood competition, which means 3.5 million people fled CBS after watching a boring episode of Big Brother, which had 7.41 million viewers, according to TV By the Numbers. When the show debuted, CBS bragged that its show did better than ABC’s new series, Mark Burnett’s Shark Tank, which last night had higher ratings: 4.79 million viewers, in addition to beating Neighborhood among viewers 18 to 49.

ABC bragged that its show “defeated its CBS freshman unscripted competition in the 9:00 p.m. hour for the 3rd straight week.” Basically, they’ve switched places in popularity, although the ABC series isn’t exactly a hit yet.

NBC’ similarly family-focused show, Great American Road Trip, ended last Monday with 4.79 million viewers, coming in third place.

While I’m watching Shark Tank and liking it–it’s a pretty solidly faithful adaptation of a great international series–I couldn’t really watch either There Goes the Neighborhood or Road Trip, even though their concepts intrigued me at first.

Part of that is the way both shows feel extremely cheap to me, from their local TV news appearance to their lack of imagination. It’s as if someone had a clever concept and then gave up before figuring out how to execute it well. At least Neighborhood brought something new to the table rather than an Amazing Race Family Edition rip-off, but that doesn’t matter since the results are so dull. Two weeks ago, for example, there was a jelly bean-counting challenge. As I wrote then, I’d honestly rather watch a show about the construction of the wall. And NBC’s show made me nostalgic for TAR’s family edition. Anything that can do that really sucks.

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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.