Next week: Top Chef all-stars face restaurant wars, RHOBH ends, and Idol returns

Lots of headlines in the reality TV world this week, from a Survivor winner starring in a homoerotic movie (it has a hilarious preview that you must watch) to a Survivor winner violating probation to a a Big Brother star pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute drugs.

Some of the news wasn’t surprising, such as official word that Rob and Russell are returning to Survivor (to play against a group of 16 new cast members and American Idol’s changes, which have been well-covered.

A lot, however, ranged from shocking, such as Mary Murphy’s revelation that she can’t scream because of cancer (and she’ll need her scream since she’s back on So You Think You Can Dance) to horrifying, like Ryan Seacrest’s admission he uses placenta on his face.

We also learned that a Dancing with the Stars pro will be on The Bachelor in another country, a singer was asked to judge American Idol but eventually didn’t sign a deal, Top Chef spin-off replaced its host and Paranormal State’s star said he’s quitting the show.

Find out what reality TV stories were popular last week, and what to watch on TV next week.

The Past: last week’s most-read stories

  1. Survivor producer Mark Burnett to me: “You ask such stupid questions”
  2. Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronova: Biggest Loser’s still-a-mystery trainers?
  3. Survivor Redemption Island cast revealed as CBS (almost) finally confirms two returners
  4. Survivor winner Fabio/Jud stars in homoerotic horror movie 1313: Nightmare Mansion
  5. Breaking! Shocking! Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz returning to Survivor for “one last shot”
  6. Winter 2011 reality TV debut schedule (updated!)

The Forward: what to watch this week

  • Friday, Jan. 14
    A new docudrama about people with a tough job debuts tonight on the Discovery Channel: Flying Wild Alaska [Discovery, 9 p.m.], which follows a family that flies cargo to remote parts of Alaska. Later, Animal Planet’s Hoarders knock-off Confessions: Animal Hoarding returns [Animal Planet, 10 p.m.].
  • Saturday, Jan. 15
    Playboy TV adds a new reality series tonight: Brooklyn Kinda Love [Playboy, 10 p.m.], which is produced by the same people who created Taxicab Confessions and follows couples that “expose the passion and pain” of their relationships, including their “secret longings for same-sex encounters” (of course!).
  • Sunday, Jan. 16
    Besides the Golden Globes and return of Big Love for its final season, Sunday night brings a 75-minute episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta [Bravo, 10 p.m.] and a new series, Hogs Got Wild [Discovery, 9 p.m.], that “explores the escalating national problem of free-roaming wild hogs.” Meanwhile, a short documentary profiles the disgraced evangelical preacher who resigned after his life of gay sex and drugs was revealed. An HBO documentary checked in with him a year ago, and now for Ted Haggard: Scandalous [TLC, 10 p.m.] cameras follow as he starts a new church.
  • Monday, Jan. 17
    A new weight-loss series debuts tonight, but since it’s on A&E, Heavy [A&E, 10 p.m.] is not going to be anything like The Biggest Loser; each episode follows two people who are “facing extreme life-threatening health consequences as a result of their obesity,” A&E says. Earlier, there’s a special episode of Jersey Shore on tonight [MTV, 9 p.m.], and you can’t blame MTV for milking this show for all its worth considering how insanely popular it is.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 18
    Tuesday is food reality TV night: Ramsay’s Best Restaurant [BBC America, 9 p.m.] features a first-round face-off between two UK restaurants with North African cuisine. If you haven’t watched, give this show a shot: It’s awesome. Meanwhile, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern returns for a sixth season [Travel Channel, 9 p.m.] on a new night and at a new time, but he’ll still be eating things that some people love and other people find horrifying. And if you’re not sufficiently grossed out, Chopped [Food Network, 10 p.m.] gives its contestants “marrow bones” to cook with.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 19
    American Idol returns for its 10th season [Fox, 8 p.m.] and two hours of auditions that will give us a good idea what the new judges are like. Expect to hear a lot of discussion about the contestants as artists, the show’s new focus. It will face off against Paula Abdul’s crappy Live to Dance [CBS, 8 p.m.], and probably suck most of that show’s remaining viewers away.
  • In more exciting news, Top Chef‘s All-Star cast will face off in the traditional restaurant wars challenge. Meanwhile, Food Network knocks off another series with Restaurant: Impossible [Food Network, 10 p.m.], Robert Irvine’s version of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Finally, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew ends its fourth season [VH1, 10 p.m.].

  • Thursday, Jan. 20
    Parks and Recreation returns after a long hiatus (woo), and American Idol finds a new home on Thursday nights as it continues its auditions [Fox, 8 p.m.]. And The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills ends its headline-generating first season [Bravo, 9 p.m.] with a special 75-minute episode.

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.