A list of reality shows TV critics should nominate (thus avoiding embarrassment)

Members of the Television Critics Association have 48 hours to nominate shows for this summer’s TCA awards, and that includes nominating, from thin air, two reality shows. Last year, that resulted in an embarrassing list: of all the quality reality television on cable and broadcast networks, we picked the predictable, obvious, highly publicized shows.

As a public service, here’s a list of shows I think should be nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming for the 2012 awards. Each member of TCA can each only nominate two shows per category, so this list is small by design; there are many series not on this list that I watch regularly and enjoy, and also shows I wish were here (Survivor, for example) but that didn’t do their best work in 2012.

We are, after all, TV critics: We’re supposed to make smart, informed, analytical, critical judgments. These are the series that had exceptional seasons last year and rise to the top for the exceptional ways in which they transform people’s lives or experiences, real or contrived, into compelling entertainment. Thus, they truly deserve recognition:

  • Whale Wars, Animal Planet
  • Top Shot, History
  • The Glee Project, Oxygen
  • Hoarders, A&E
  • Shark Tank, ABC
  • 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic, HBO
  • The Pitch, AMC
  • Deadliest Catch, Discovery
  • So You Think You Can Dance, Fox

Survivor San Juan Del Sur's dark cloud is lifted

John Rocker

In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.

Why Dick Donato left Big Brother 13

Dick Donato

The Big Brother villain known as "Evel Dick" has finally revealed why he left the show during its 13th season: he learned he was HIV positive.

Also: Dick claims he had no choice but to leave the game.

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.