TV critics will recognize best unscripted entertainment show, but won’t call it reality TV

Television critics, including me, voted overwhelmingly to add a category for reality television to their awards next summer at the Television Critics Association meeting yesterday in Los Angeles. The first award will be given next summer for a show broadcast this year.

The category, however, will be called “unscripted entertainment,” not “reality TV,” because of an apparent uncomfortableness with the stigma associated with the term, which suggests the trashier shows rather than the excellent ones. However, as many critics eloquently pointed out, we won’t award something like Jersey Shore–and if we do, well, then we deserve ridicule.

Considering the number of outstanding nonfiction series that are currently on the air and that were largely ignored during this year’s TCA awards, from Hoarders to Survivor to Dirty Jobs to Brick City to Whale Wars to Top Chef Masters, that’s a welcome change. As critic Aaron Barnhart wrote, “we are finally acknowledging the abundance of quality factual programs airing every year and allowing one to walk away with what my colleague Dan Fienberg aptly calls a ‘priceless piece of Lucite.'”

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.