Unscripted Mad Men, Department of Homeland Security reality shows coming to AMC

AMC, the network best known for exceptional dramas such as Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and, most recently, The Killing, is getting into reality television, which it calls “docu-stories.” Because of AMC’s reputation for extraordinarily high-quality fictional television, I think this is good news for reality TV as a genre, and hope they hold reality producers to the same standards and thus force other networks to compete at that level.

Its first two series profile ad agencies pitching ideas, kind of like Mad Men, and a show about the Department of Homeland Security, kind of like ABC’s 2009 Arnold Shapiro-produced Homeland Security USA, which did not have high ratings.

Inside the DHS “will chronicle the behind-the-scenes workings of the Department of Homeland Security and its personnel, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano,” Deadline reports. AMC SVP Joel Stillerman told Deadline producers “have incredible access.” It’s produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, which is responsible for shows such as Top Shot and Dirty Jobs.

The second series, which recalls Mad Men, is The Pitch, and will be produced by Undercover Boss producers Studio Lambert. The show “follows top creative ad agencies as they pitch a new account and goes behind the scenes as they prepare the campaigns and pitches,” according to Deadline.

AMC’s Stillerman told the site that it will produce reality TV because “we have a real appetite to expand our programming slate, and we think that there is an opportunity for us to redefine how it’s done in some ways. Our vision for it is very similar to what we do in scripted: let’s start with where the best stories are. Where are the places that we find worlds that are inherently dramatic and culturally relevant?”

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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.