Viewers’ votes better than coach picks on The Voice, as Blake Shelton makes a baffling choice

On The Voice‘s first elimination episode last night, viewers voted to save the contestants who gave last week’s strongest performances, while one of its coaches made a baffling decision.

Viewers chose Beverly McClellan, an openly lesbian singer who sang a Melissa Ethridge song, and Dia Frampton, the indie-ish singer with the most distinctive, and perhaps weirdest, voice. Those selections seem remarkable, even though they shouldn’t be, and are another way in which the show stands out from American Idol, which just finished a season on which blandness and conformity were rewarded above all else.

Christina Aguilera and her cleavage selected Frenchie Davis to continue in the competition, but it was Blake Shelton’s end-of-episode selection of Xenia, who had probably the worst performance last week, that was the most shocking. He kept her and sent two stronger singers, Jared Blake and Patrick Thomas, home. Why would he do that? Blake had a self-centered reason: “I can’t affect change with Jared Blake or Patrick Thomas like I can with Xenia, so I am going to pick Xenia,” he said. Basically, she sucks so much that he can help her grow.

Overall, The Voice delivered another strong episode. Combining eliminations and performances into one episode was a great format twist, and they moved everything along rapidly. Carson Daly needs help interviewing and the coaches need to learn how to coach with constructive criticism, but the show remains very watchable.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.