Bering Sea Gold’s record ratings show our fascination with Alaska, boats, fishing, plus swamps, monsters, and more

Discovery’s debut Friday of Bering Sea Gold, the new reality series from Thom Beers that follows people searching for gold in Alaska waters, was the network’s most-watched series debut ever. An average of 3.66 million people watched, according to the network, and it set records for the network among households, adults 18 to 49, and adults and men ages 25 to 54.

The series’ popularity indicates, on some level, that we still have a fascination with Alaska, the state that has hosted a number of reality series–just as Louisiana has. Since network executives are inherently insecure, the popularity of one show often means a bunch of similar shows crop up on other networks.

That kind of duplication is nothing new, nor is merging two popular formats into a new one, but a fascinating Venn diagram put together by Vulture has illustrated the relationship between a number of popular topics: Texas, cake, weddings, “wars,” monsters, Alaska, Louisiana, boats and fishing, swamps, and repo/pawning/towing.

It’s far from a perfect representation, and to make it work, there are some glaring omissions (like River Monsters or Whale Wars, which should overlap with “Wars” and boats/fishing, but those circles are too far apart to make that happen). And there are plenty of other topics and trends that could be included, from New Jersey to restaurants. But it’s still an awesome and informative visual.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.