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 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.