Despite dumping host award, Emmys do better with reality TV, but can still do better

While the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has gotten better with its treatment of reality TV in recent years, it still has a long way to go in recognizing unscripted entertainment as an equal among scripted and variety programs. But despite its frequent disses of the genre, there were many indications of reality TV’s importance and relevance throughout the telecast, and I don’t just mean the big upset.

Some observations:

  • Jeff Probst flew in from taping Survivor 22 in Nicaragua–leaving Russell Hantz and Rob Mariano alone, egad–to present the Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety, Variety or Music Series Emmy along with Joel McHale. The irony of this is that Probst’s award was bumped because there wasn’t time during the prime-time telecast for all of the awards, when I think an award such as Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety, Variety or Music Series could easily be moved to the Creative Arts Emmys and no one would miss it.
  • Probst’s intro of the reward mentioned that “improv is dangerous and writing is essential.” Too funny, considering he and his fellow reality show host nominees attempted improv and failed. Also, improv is fun to watch because it is dangerous and thus writing is not always essential, but you do need talented improvisers to make it work.
  • Will Arnett and Keri “Felictiy” Russell presented the best reality competition Emmy to Magical Elves, and though they’re not exactly A-list, they are hip and, in Arnett’s case, hilarious, so I’ll take it.
  • Deadliest Catch star and Cornelia Marie captain Phil Harris was recognized during the “in memorium” part, and although it may have happened, I can’t recall a reality star every being included so prominently in that before.
  • Jimmy Fallon called Edie Falco “the original Real Housewife of New Jersey,” which was funny but surely caused Caroline Manzo to pick up the phone and order Andy Cohen to kill Jimmy Fallon.
  • Kate Gosselin appeared in the cold open, a sketch featuring the cast of Glee and other hot stars, such as Betty White and Jon Hamm. The joke was that they didn’t want Kate to join their new Glee club because Kate can’t dance. While I appreciate Kate’s attempt to make fun of herself, she was so unrecognizable that I literally didn’t place her until someone said “Kate.” It’s possible her hair and outfit were meant to mock the shit they have to wear on Dancing with the Stars, but then again, she doesn’t make the best choices when she’s not on that show.
  • Jimmy Fallon introduced the reality clip package with the help of Kim Kardashian, who sang that reality shows are “the only thing on TV that people still watch.”
  • The year in reality package was extremely heavy on NBC and Bravo shows, which is especially ludicrous since NBC’s Minute to Win It game show got pimped in that package repeatedly. Almost ridiculously, Big Brother 12‘s Britney was included (saying “I lost my dignity on a slippery weiner”) but there wasn’t any Survivor. Can someone who actually watches reality TV create that package next year? Please?

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.