It’s that time of year when Television Critics Association members get to nominate shows for our annual awards, and thus time for me to offer recommendations/beg my fellow critics to please nominate reality television that represents the peak of what this genre is capable of producing.
Although I’ve been generally pleased with the shows that have won–last year it was RuPaul’s Drag Race–the nominations have, honestly, frustrated me.
In this age of high-quality, high-volume television, TV critics don’t have enough hours in the day or resources to watch every scripted show. And they certainly don’t have time to watch all the reality TV that’s produced–never mind that some of my colleagues still don’t quite think of the genre as anything but a trash hole. I understand all of that.
Yet it’s still tragic that just the high-profile, decent reality shows get nominated and the rest get ignored. The resulting nominations have become, shall we say, uninspired. Last year, four of the five nominees shows were broadcast; two were previous winners; all five were competition series.
When I started writing this post, I wrote a headline and an introduction that I later realized were almost identical to what I wrote last year: “TV critics: let’s nominate some non-broadcast, non-competition reality shows, okay?” Alas, that didn’t happen. But I will try again because I’m stubborn.
Here is the one show that I hope everyone nominates:
- The Chair, Starz. It was exceptional unscripted art on every level. Truly a masterpiece. (Watch it if you missed it.)
Also deserving of a nomination are these shows:
- The Jinx, HBO. It had some veracity problems but was engaging and well-crafted.
- Married at First Sight, FYI. A surprising amount of emotion and depth in its exploration of relationships.
- Naked and Afraid, Discovery. Another show that surpassed its gimmick.
- The Quest, ABC. Yes, a broadcast competition, but the first successful scripted/reality hybrid.
TCA members can each only nominate two shows per category, which is an extremely difficult task. I don’t yet know which of the ones from the second list I’ll nominate. However, since The Jinx is probably the most likely to be nominated by other critics, I’m leaning heavily toward one of the other three.