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

The Quest ends its journey stronger than it began

Verlox from The Quest

A review of the finale of summer's best reality series, which wasn't always perfect but was thoroughly entertaining right down to the finish, which included phenomenal challenges and special effects. Will ABC give it a second season?

Plus: an interview with the actor who played Verlox and the ogre.

Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

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.