A partial list of reality shows TV critics should have nominated instead of the ones we did

In the three years I’ve been a member of the Television Critics Association, the TCA Awards’ nominations have nearly always been to such deserving shows and people that it usually doesn’t really matter who wins.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case with the first-ever reality TV category. Originally called “unscripted entertainment” as a way of pretending we weren’t honoring a reality TV show, Monday’s press release referred to the category as “Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming,” which was perhaps the best news, because the nominees themselves were disappointing.

Three of the five were network shows, one of which hasn’t even aired a full season yet (!). Though Survivor and Amazing Race haven’t lived up to the high bar they set earlier in their lives, they remain among the better shows on television, and certainly deserve recognition for their legacy, if not for their most recent seasons. Of course, it could have been a lot worse: We could have nominated Operation Repo or Bad Girls Club.

Mostly, my disappointment stems from what was left out rather than what was nominated. So, here’s my list of TV shows that stand out in my mind because they were so great–high quality, consistently engaging, ethically produced–they absolutely deserved a nomination:

  • Whale Wars, Animal Planet
  • Hoarders, A&E
  • Teach: Tony Danza, A&E
  • Work of Art, Bravo
  • Deadliest Catch, Discovery

And shows that, had they been nominated, I would have been very content with:

  • Shark Tank, ABC
  • Next Food Network Star, Food Network
  • Circus, PBS
  • Top Shot, History
  • Dirty Jobs, Discovery
  • Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, OWN
  • The Celebrity Apprentice, NBC
  • 24/7 (Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic), HBO
  • Boston Med, ABC
  • Top Chef: Just Desserts
  • Teen Mom, MTV
  • Intervention, A&E
  • Brick City, Sundance
  • Beyond Scared Straight, A&E
  • Storm Chasers, Discovery
  • The Colony, Discovery
  • Out of the Wild: Venezuela, Discovery
  • So You Think You Can Dance, Fox

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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.