reality TV reviews and news

Why no Survivor Emmy love? How to find reality shows that are casting?

The Amazing Race wins its 10th Emmy. Sigh. (Photo by Invision/AP)

After reading your 15 year anniversary article about Survivor, I couldn’t help but wonder why the show’s gotten so little love at the Emmy Awards. No nomination for best reality competition since 2006? And the, in my opinion, far inferior Amazing Race has won six times since 2006? What do you think is the reason? –Tom G.

I have two words: Modern Family. The show’s inexplicable series of wins–five years in a row!–demonstrates that there’s strong recency bias. Nominators and voters, I fear, are aware of something in part because it wins, and so it keeps getting nominated and keeps winning.

At least, that’s what I tell myself to hope that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ members really don’t think Modern Family is consistently the best of all comedies on television (all comedies!).

Ditto for The Amazing Race, which has now won 10 Emmys.

Actually, Survivor has been the beneficiary of this kind of thinking–or at least, its host has. Jeff Probst won four consecutive times. As deserving as he was, it seemed absurd to just keep giving him awards and fail to recognize Cat Deeley, or Tom Bergeron, or Phil Keoghan.

But that’s what awards shows do. They frustrate the hell out of us because we want our favorites to be recognized, regardless of how much we hate the imperfect process that prevents them from winning. They validate our choices.

Ultimately, I think Survivor has just been around too long. Any momentum it had–the show did win in 2001, in the since-discontinued Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (Special Class) category–went away. It’s a show the media paid tons of attention to at its start and then occasionally later, but has since mostly forgotten about. It may also be a victim of the Emmys’ early failure to figure out how recognize reality television.

The Emmys–and the TCA Awards, and others–are imperfect and always will be. But they’re far better than the other option.


How can I find the shows that are casting? Who do I talk to, emails, phone numbers, names, etc. I need to have some luck, and I’m will to try just about anything. Please help with the information requested. –anonymous

This question might not have been intended for Ask Andy, and it does sound a little like they just want me to Google for them, but it’s also a good question.

The best way to find a show that’s casting is to look at its web site and follow the instructions there. The second-best way is to look at the web sites (or social media) of casting companies or casting directors, especially those who’ve cast shows you like. For an example, see Doron Ofir Casting.

That seems like the simple, obvious answer, but honestly, that’s the best way: go straight to the source.

I recommend that for two reasons. One, you know you can trust those sources. You really don’t want to go to the other end of the spectrum and respond to a sketchy Craiglist ad posted by someone who’s not really a producer and is, at best, incompetent. (That said, some real shows do post ads to Craiglist, inexplicably.) Two, you’re going to get the best possible idea of what the casting director or show wants when you hear it from them. There are no layers or filters; this isn’t a local news station running an “open casting call” where they just film dozens of people talking into a camera and then send the tape on.

If you’re looking for any show that’s casting, because your goal is to get on TV, there are web sites that aggregate casting notices. For example: Reality Wanted. Those can be useful, but I’d also argue that at least some shows aren’t really looking for people who just want to be on TV; they want you to have some passion for the show you’re applying to. (If you don’t believe me, read this.)

Ultimately, as this story made clear, casting is a shot in the dark. Being cast requires the perfect storm of variables, many of which are out of your control. But there are many that you can control. More to come on that in a story within the next two weeks.

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