This week: Little People, Big World ends forever, Apprentice concludes, Katie Lee Joel returns on Top Chef

Last week ended with big news in the reality TV world: Big Brother’s Brendon admitted to cheating on Rachel after his Skype affair with a woman was exposed on Twitter; that exposure included a naked picture of him. Meanwhile, Twitter is a little quieter now that several reality stars, including Ryan Seacrest, are still offline because their fans haven’t donated enough money to bring them back.

But mostly, this week was marked with lots of quitting, starting with The Amazing Race, where there was no consequence for quitting a task. On Survivor, after NaOnka Mixon and Kelly Shinn got an episode celebrating their quitting, they were rewarded and showed different sides of themselves.

Finally, we learned that American Idol will let its viewers vote online for finalists next year, but getting fan support doesn’t translate into record sales. Last season’s winner, Lee DeWyze, had the worst sales of any American Idol winner.

The Past: last week’s most-read stories

  1. Big Brother’s Brendon admits to cheating on Rachel via Skype affair, naked pic posted
  2. Ponderosa: NaOnka and Kelly get personality makeovers, plus a trip to Granada, cash
  3. Survivor celebrates quitters NaOnka and Kelly by dragging out quitting for an episode
  4. Amazing Race 18 will be an all-star season and is now filming; teams identified
  5. NaOnka reveals real-life impact of her actions; Kelly says why they didn’t quit immediately
  6. Amazing Race time penalties and credits explained

The Forward: what to watch this week

  • Sunday, Dec. 5
    Tonight on The Amazing Race 17 [CBS, 8 p.m.], we’ll find out the effect of Nick’s decision to give up in the middle of a task; my guess is there will be no consequence thanks to an equalizer and a lame speed bump task. Later, the longest-running celebrity docudrama on TV, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, debuts its sixth season [A&E, 9 p.m.] with two back-to-back episodes, and they are followed by a new celebrity-focused docudrama, The Hasselhoffs [A&E, 10 p.m.], which follows the already overexposed David Hasselhoff.
  • Monday, Dec. 6
    The episode of Little People, Big World that airs tonight [TLC, 8:30 p.m.] is the last one, because the series is ending after six seasons on the air. After that ends, TLC introduces something new, as Cake Boss is spinning off a competition series, The Next Great Baker [TLC, 9 p.m.], during which Buddy Valastro will challenge 10 pastry chefs on “their business sense and cake artistry,” according to the network. Later, the documentary series True Life [MTV, 10 p.m.] returns with an episode titled “I Can’t Have Sex,” while Tabatha Coffey returns for another season of yelling at salon staff on Tabatha’s Salon Takeover [Bravo, 10 p.m.].
  • Tuesday, Dec. 7
    Cupcake Wars returns tonight [Food Network, 9 p.m.], and I dare you to watch without craving cupcakes. Speaking of food, just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be even more shows starring Gordon Ramsay, BBC America brings to the US Ramsay’s Best Restaurant [BBC America, 9 p.m.], which features 11 episodes in which Ramsay has his favorite UK restaurants face off. In each episode, two restaurants with similar cuisines will be subject to various tests to see which one will move on. Meanwhile, The Biggest Loser [NBC, 9 p.m.] airs their now-standard marathon running challenge, which this time includes family and friends supporting the contestants as they run 26.2 miles following just six weeks of training, which is kinda ridiculous even for fit runners. Maybe that’s why one contestant once ran a marathon only in his mind.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 8
    American Ninja Warrior returns with two back-to-back episodes [G4, 8 p.m.] as Americans try to prove themselves worthy of traveling to Japan to attempt the insane obstacle course at Mt. Midoriyama. Later, Storm Chasers ends its season [Discovery, 10 p.m.] with a special “behind the storm” episode, while the perfectly cast group of Top Chef All Stars [Bravo, 10 p.m.] will be judged by first season host Katie Lee Joel, who was fired and replaced by Padma Lakshmi. She returns during an episode that also features Joe Jonas and the chefs preparing snacks and breakfast for kids at a museum.
  • Thursday, Dec. 9
    The Apprentice concludes its recession-themed season [NBC, 10 p.m.], which has been full of lots of drama (Donald Trump exposed cheating and tried to out one candidate), but hasn’t had many viewers. That may explain why the finale doesn’t appear to be live, like it usually is.

Frankie leads Big Brother's parade of delusion

Frankie on Big Brother

Heading into the finale, the delusion continues, with a re-appearance by evicted Frankie.

Related: The unwatchable cast of Fox's Utopia keeps yelling and screaming.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

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.