Ask Andy: Why don’t you write about…?

Still waiting to hear your take on King of the Nerds… –Eric Pierce

This isn’t exactly a question, so I suppose including it here is kind of a cheat, but it’s one I get frequently: When are you going to write about this show, or what do you think about that show? First, I really appreciate these questions, since I’m just a guy sitting on my couch in underwear responding to what I see. It’s still kind of weird that people care what I think, so if you’re one of those people, thanks.

I’m rarely shy with my thoughts or opinions, but maybe a few years ago, I realized that so many of my favorite television programs are ones that it took me a while to get into (Deadwood, The Sopranos, even Mad Men) or ones that started with weak pilot episodes (Golden Girls) or even weak first seasons (Parks and Recreation).

So, recognizing that a show usually wants and needs publicity to get off the ground, and knowing that first episodes of reality shows are usually very different from scripted pilots, I still try hard not to make snap judgements based on a first episode alone. Of course, I’m all for changing my mind about a show, especially if it improves–Chopped, for instance, took a while to find its groove, and after watching for a while gave it a mediocre review, but later had a more positive take on it.

Mostly, I only want to write when I have coherent ideas to share, and that’s rarely after seeing one or two episodes of a new show. That’s also why I don’t recap every episode of every show I like or hate-watch: I don’t write unless I have something to say, though I’m sure I’ve failed at that many times over the years. If a show ends up falling into middle ground–I don’t love it or loathe some part of it–I tend to ignore it here.

As an example of all this, and to completely contradict myself by doing what I say I don’t like to do, tonight is the debut of ABC’s The Taste, which is The Voice with food. I was intrigued but quickly bored by the audition episode, and there’s another one to come next week. I’m super-interested, though, in how the show will continue the idea of blind judging throughout its entire season, and so I won’t write until the competition kicks in.

To respond to Eric’s tweet directly, I watched the first King of the Nerds and was really surprised by how much I liked it and how different it was, when its previews made it seem too familiar. But I’ve also seen a show start strong and drop off, so I’m anxious yet hopeful.

I’ve been brainstorming ways to just give quick thoughts like these, ones that aren’t fully-formed reviews, besides tweeting ephemeral thoughts about something I’m watching. A weekly run-down of everything I watched that week? One-paragraph posts about every episode I watch? Both of those sound like too much, though, so I welcome any suggestions, including the suggestion that I don’t bother.

Speaking of suggestions: I’m all for suggestions for things I should be watching. Except The Challenge. No.

Ask me something about reality TV. I may use your question in this space, and wouldn’t that be special?

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.