The year in reality TV, 2010

The year’s end is upon us, and although the transition from today to tomorrow won’t really be noticeable in any other meaningful way, the change from one number to the next prompts us to be nostalgic. So let’s look back at trends in reality TV for 2010.

This past year was marked by a number of milestones, since it marked a decade of network reality TV, including the 10th anniversary of Survivor’s debut (which was celebrated in L.A.) and, about five weeks later, the anniversary of this site’s birth. And around that time, the reality TV-inspired ABC series Lost ended its run.

There was a lot to celebrate: Survivor Africa winner Ethan Zohn’s battled cancer and won, The Amazing Race had its first female winners, and new series like Work of Art and Top Shot proved the genre can still deliver surprises.

Alas, too many people died in 2010: captain Phil Harris, Survivor Palau’s Jenn Lyon, reality producer Denise Cramsey, Corey Haim, Last Comic Standing host Greg Giraldo, a Kitchen Nightmares chef/owner, an American Loggers cast member, a Bachelorette contestant, and a Storm Chasers star.

But there was also a lot of joy. Who can forget great moments such as “the Red Hots are for my mommy,” the most awkward TV performance ever, footage of a hamster masturbating, Hoarders’ Sir Patrick and his secret, the spitting Survivor challenge, Fighting Gravity and Prince Poppycock, or the Zingbot?

Here’s a Bristol Palin-free look at trends I noticed this past year. Enjoy you New Year’s celebrations, and I’ll see you in 2011, when I get to L.A. Wednesday to report from the TV critics’ press tour.

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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.