TV critics: let’s nominate some non-broadcast, non-competition reality shows, okay?

It’s time for my annual attempt to get my fellow members of the Television Critics Association to nominate truly outstanding reality television for the Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming award.

While my constant kvetching and complaining may mask my true mission, it’s to get the world to recognize high-quality reality television, the kind produced with the same care and attention that high-quality scripted series receive.

Last year, we nominated only competition series, and just one cable show, The Glee Project. The previous year, it was all competition series. And the first year of the reality TV category? Actually, mostly all competition series–Anthony Bourdain’s show was the sole exception.

Yes, in three years, despite tons of documentary-style and narrative series, we’ve nominated just one non-competition show and only two cable series. Yikes. It is a hard task, since we can nominate just two shows each, and broadcast competitions are far more visible (and, yes, popular). But we’re trying to recognize outstanding television, not loud and popular shows.

Okay, I’ll stop complaining (it’s a hard habit to break!) and instead present my list of shows that I think should be nominated this year:

  • Naked & Afraid, Discovery
  • Friday Night Tykes, Esquire
  • Behind the Mask, Hulu
  • The Freshmen Class, Cooking Channel
  • Lindsay, OWN
  • The Pitch, AMC
  • Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, AMC

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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.