Billy Bob Thornton’s critique of reality TV, humanity

Appearing on Oprah’s Master Class Sunday night, actor Billy Bob Thornton issued a devastating critique not only of reality TV’s obsession with competitions and similarly themed shows, but of viewers’ desire to see others fail instead of experiencing the “magic” in life.

“We’re just living in a time that’s just become judgmental and everybody wants to see failure, they want to see people knocked off the hill. You can’t have a television show without a competition because they want to see who cries this week and who goes downhill, who gets kicked out. We don’t need one show about cupcakes, as far as I’m concerned, but you know what, if you want one, okay, that’s fine. Let’s have a show about cupcakes. But does it have to be a fucking competition? Do you have to have Cupcake Wars? And I’m sure people who have been in war kind of take offense to that because, seriously, it’s not that goddamn dangerous to make a cupcake. I guess I’m just really ready for people to kind of settle down and know each other again and root for each other as opposed to look for the faults in each other. And maybe that’s why I keep thinking about and making stories from another time, you know, another time and another place. There’s a lot of great stuff in life from the top to the bottom and from the left to the right. Life is magical, and I guess my thing is, I wish that people wanted that magic.”

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.