This week: Thanksgiving reality TV marathons perfect for avoiding your family

A long holiday weekend is ahead, and between Thanksgiving and shoving other people at stores, there’s a lot of need for escape. Thankfully, TV networks have us covered, airing marathons of reality shows all day Thursday and on Friday. Those range from Mythbusters to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and include everything in-between.

And in the meantime, catch up on the reality TV stories you might have missed this past week, and see what is worth watching during the week ahead.

The Past: last week’s most-read stories

  1. Amazing Race 18 will be an all-star season and is now filming; teams identified
  2. What shocks the Survivor tribe? Episode listing reveals it
  3. Chase says Survivor editing faked his immunity challenge loss
  4. Amazing Race errorimpacted multiple teams
  5. Why The Real World keeps returning to the same cities

The Forward: what to watch this week

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24
    As usual, Survivor airs a clip show [CBS, 8 p.m.] on which CBS promises “[n]ew scenes shed light on the castaways and the decisions they’ve made during the game,” but rarely has that happened; it’s usually just a waste of time. However, the preview that’s presumably for this episode did a good job of faking us out, appearing even to reveal an immunity challenge winner. Also tonight, The Biggest Loser airs a two-hour “Where are they know?” special [NBC, 8 p.m.], and it checks in with more than 30 past contestants to see how their weight loss has gone, although I’d guess they won’t be asking whether the show gave them eating disorders.
  • Thursday, Nov. 25
    It’s Thanksgiving, and besides pretending that the parade is more interesting than it actually is, or having awkward interaction with relatives, there’s another great holiday tradition: reality TV marathons.
  • The Mythbusters gang tests myths all day long [Discovery, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.], and those 11 hours are followed by the two-hour “Punkin Chunkin” competition–yes, it involves chucking pumpkins–hosted this year by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.

    Food Networks’ Ace of Cakes is ending after its upcoming 10th season, but TLC’s similar Cake Boss is still around and will air all day on Thanksgiving, if you want to get into a cake mood [TLC, 6 a.m. to 3 a.m.]. If you just want to celebrate your inner glutton, watch Adam Richman eat on Man v. Food [Travel Channel, 9 a.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Friday]. But if you’d rather be inspired to clean, check out Clean House‘s marathon [Style, 6 a.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday].

    If you need to cheer yourself up after all the family cheer, try the documentary series that follows homicide investigators, The First 48 [A&E, 7 a.m. to 4 a.m. Friday]. There’s other escapist television on, too, like an evening with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills [Bravo, 6 p.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Friday], which is preceded by eight hours with the Millionaire Matchmaker [Bravo, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.].

    Eavesdrop on people’s professions by watching Campus PD [G4, 12:30 p.m. to midnight], which is basically like Cops except on college campuses. So, you know, crazier. And Cops itself precedes and follows that marathon. There’s house porn and awkwardly scripted reality TV with 12 hours of House Hunters and House Hunters International [HGTV, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.],

    Elsewhere, you can watch the aspirational series The Buried Life [MTV, 9 a.m. to noon] followed by the bratty series My Super Sweet 16 [MTV, noon to 5 p.m.]. On MTV’s sibling channel, there are marathons of Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory [MTV2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.] followed by Rob and Big [MTV2, 3 p.m. to midnight].

    And of course, the Kardashians do their part and offer their lives up for entertainment. Keeping Up with the Kardashians [E!, 10 a.m. to noon, and 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.] will apparently keep doing that, because the family plans on sharing their lives via reality TV “forever.”

  • Friday, Nov. 26
  • TV networks offer their own version of leftovers on Friday, with some additional reality TV marathons. There’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills [Bravo, Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.], My Super Sweet 16 [6 a.m. to 10 a.m.], and Teen Mom [MTV, 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.].

    Elsewhere, Giuliana & Bill [Style 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.], followed by the network’s Jersey Shore rip-off Jerseylicious [Style, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.]
    MTV2 hands over its schedule to Jackass spin-offs: Wildboyz [MTV2, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.], Bam’s Unholy Union [MTV2, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.], and Viva La Bam [MTV2, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.]

    And for a dose of seriousness, check out “Diet Detective” Charles Stuart Platkin’s I Want to Save Your Life [WEtv, 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.], on which he helps someone lose weight, but without screaming at them, using a giant scale, or making them perform challenges–and via which he also really wants to help you.

    Later, there’s the docudrama series that follows a recession-impacted family, Downsized [WEtv, 8 p.m. to midnight]. And on Friday night, the extreme school makeover series School Pride [NBC, 8 p.m.] ends its first, and perhaps only, season as it helps an L.A. school.

  • Saturday, Nov. 27
    The new season of The Fashion Show, which changed its format to be less of a Project Runway clone, airs its first three episodes in a row if you haven’t yet checked it out [Bravo, noon to 2 p.m.].
  • Also tonight, Pit Bulls and Parolees [Animal Planet, 10 p.m.] airs a special episode that will raise money for the rescue center featured on the show. The network promises to give a donation for every viewer that tunes in, so it’d be a good time to check it out or make sure you tune in–especially if you’re a Nielsen family.

  • Sunday, Nov. 28
    Having eliminated Chad and Stephanie (who are now married and pregnant), The Amazing Race 17 [CBS, 8 p.m.] is down to its final four teams, and they face some challenges in Hong Kong: CBS says some of them “become violently ill during a challenge” while one person “threatens to quit.” Knowing the race, those problems will be resolved after a magical commercial break intervenes.
  • Also tonight, Chopped airs a holiday themed episode on a special night [Food Network, 9 p.m.], asking its three chefs to prepare seasonal food with challenges that include integrating gingerbread and oysters and using only a microwave to cook dessert. Paranormal State concludes its fifth season [A&E, 9:30 p.m.] of searching for evidence of paranormal activity, and for something even scarier, there’s Kate Gosselin on a Halloween-themed episode of Kate Plus 8 [TLC, 10 p.m.].

  • Monday, Nov. 29
    After Skating with the Stars‘ [ABC, 8 p.m.] first episode hemorrhaged viewers, will anyone tune in to its second episode? Later, the bucket list series The Buried Life [MTV, 10 p.m.] concludes its second season with two back-to-back episodes on which the guys try to make $1 million, but apparently not by being on a reality TV show.
  • On a more serious note, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s time spent with a platoon in Afghanistan became a best-selling book, and now their Sundance film festival prize-winning documentary Restrepo, which chronicles their time there, comes to cable TV [National Geographic Channel, 9 p.m.]. The network says that the film’s “only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.”

  • Tuesday, Nov. 30
    Former Full House star and raunchy comedian Bob Saget takes off on a cross-country journey documented in his new reality series, Strange Days with Bob Saget [A&E, 10 p.m.]. It follows him as he “immerses himself in different unusual cultures from the world of Bigfoot hunters to the trials of the pro-wrestling circuit,” according to the network. Idea for a future episode: Hanging out with the Olsen twins.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 1
    The new month brings the debut of new shows, including the first-ever Top Chef All Stars [Bravo, 10 p.m.], which brings back a group of popular and talented chefs to be judged by Anthony Bourdain and muppets, in addition to the regular panel. At the same time, buyers look in repossessed storage units for valuable things on the new series Storage Wars [A&E, 10 p.m.], while Dr. Drew and his team return to help a new group of D-list celebrities kick their addictions on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew [VH1, 10 p.m.].
  • Earlier, America’s Next Top Model concludes its 15th season [The CW, 8 p.m.] as Roberto Cavalli guest judges the final two girls, who get visits from loved ones while they are in Italy. And having skipped a season and burned off episodes at weird times because of murder-related controversy, I Love Money ends its fourth and probably final season [VH1, 9 p.m.].

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.