Emmy wins again go to Jeff Probst and Amazing Race, which needs to withdraw

The Emmy awards last night seemed to prove one thing: they don’t really watch reality TV, giving American Idol‘s director an award for best direction in a season that included an eight-minute overrun and other screw-ups. (Bruce Gowers technically won for a single episode, but Emmys acknowledge more than just an episode of work.)

In addition, Emmy voters repeated their reality TV Emmys from last year: Jeff Probst won for best reality show host, and The Amazing Race won its seventh consecutive Emmy. While I typically complain about The Amazing Race‘s endless wins, fantastic Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris mocked it on the telecast immediately after its win: “Congratulations, guys. Unbelievable. Upsets at every turn,” he said. At least the reality competition reinvented itself and pulled itself out of its rut for the second of two seasons that aired last year; it was even more of an insult to the other nominated shows that TAR kept winning despite its almost boring repetitiveness.

As a sign of its general contempt for the genre, perennially unfunny and one-note actor Tracy Morgan presented the best competition award to Van Munster. In his acceptance speech, executive producer Betram Van Munster mentioned “all these Emmy awards” and said, “I don’t know what to say anymore” and “I’m really speechless.” Maybe you should withdraw the show from contention next year, then. Seven consecutive wins is a record, and especially since some of those were for not-so-great seasons (it even won the year the freakin’ family edition aired), the show can do without another Emmy statue.

Earlier, Jeff Probst received his second Emmy for best reality show host, and of the three reality-related awards presented last night, his was absolutely the most deserved–although a win for Phil Keoghan would have been great, and I would have been okay with a Ryan Seacrest win, since he does an impressive job, although it’s not quite what Probst and Keoghan do.

Probst was as classy as usual: he not only mentioned his show’s crew and said something about living out his dream, but he also said, “Neil Patrick Harris, this is how you host the Emmys. Nice job.”–a reference to the fact that Probst and the other reality host nominees bungled their Emmy hosting last year.

There was a lot other reality TV-related content during the three-hour show, from the obvious (Neil Patrick Harris identifying himself as a “reality junkie”) to the more obscure (actor James Whitmore was acknowledged in the segment about stars who’ve died in the past year, and he is Survivor Gabon cast member Matty Whitmore’s grandfather). During one bit, Harlem Globetrotters Nathaniel “Big Easy” Lofton and Herbert “Flight Time” Lang were sitting in front of someone, and while the show didn’t acknowledge it, they’re cast members on The Amazing Race 14. Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy danced together despite having recently split up, and So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley was also doing something backstage, except she only appeared twice by my count; that’s tragic.

But perhaps the most horrifying part of the evening was the clip package introducing reality TV. Besides the fact that it highlighted the trashiest shows and trashiest moments from great shows and failed to showcase the best of reality TV, it also included brief flashes of Lydia and Jessie from Big Brother. That much attention is completely unacceptable, and will undoubtedly make Jessie’s ego grow even larger than his freakishly large muscles.

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.