Tonight, American Idol turns 400, and Top Chef Texas finally dies

There are two milestones on reality TV tonight: Fox airs the 400th episode of American Idol, which is also the first round of the finals, and the Bravo airs the final episode of Top Chef Texas, which has been airing for 400 years now.

That American Idol has reached 400 episodes in less than 11 seasons is primarily because the show airs over five months and sometimes three times a week every year over the past decade. It is remarkable that it has only started to feel the effects of its age this season, when it has been dethroned as the nation’s most-popular television show.

The ninth season of Top Chef has had the most episodes of any other season of the show–tonight’s reunion is 18; all-stars last year had 17 including the reunion–but it feels closer to 400 because this season has been so awful, with the exception of the amazing Snow White challenge episode. Mostly, there was a pretty severe misfire at the beginning with the tedious semi-finals full of people we didn’t care about being eliminated. The show really needs to get out of its formulaic rut, and fast.

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.