Oprah cheats by giving letting both Your OWN Show finalists win while viewers still lose

The Oprah Winfrey Network’s first competitive reality series, Your OWN Show, ended its low-rated first (and thus probably last) season on Friday night with predictable ending: Oprah refused to pick between the two finalists, Zach Anner and Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco. She didn’t even fake out one of them, she just said, “The truth is that both of you have given your heart, and the truth is that both of you really deserve to have your own show. Kristina, and Zach, I’m going to make that happen. You will both have your own show on the OWN network.”

It was anticlimactic, which fit with this derivative and weak series that had watchable moments but never worked for what it was supposed to be. Executive producer Mark Burnett included himself as the final episode’s mentor, but didn’t do much by way of teaching the finalists how to actually produce a show. Instead, he just said ironic things, such as, “it’s going to come down to execution, because in the end, what’s on that screen is what’s going to matter.”

Exactly, and that’s why this show was pretty awful. He also said, “What we’re always trying to avoid in television is having the viewer take a few seconds to say to themselves, ‘Is that real?’ While they’re thinking that, they’re missing something else important you might have said.” About a half-dozen examples of this happening on Burnett’s own series popped immediately into my head, including that fake “OWN Studios” sign that every establishing shot included.

As to the winners, Zach was always funny and pretty much never did anything wrong, perhaps because he had previous experience in his own web series, or because he just looked good by comparison to the disaster that was the other contestants. That was Burnett’s biggest failing here and in Design Star: casting for drama instead of talent, and then focusing on drama instead of process. That works on his competitive series, which I love, but fails this subgenre miserably.

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.