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35 new and renewed reality TV shows

35 new and renewed reality TV shows
New The Voice judges Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus will be part of NBC's spin-off The Voice on Snapchat. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

I’ve been collecting announcements over the past few months, and these are the shows that stood out to me. Some are brand-new, others are returning for more.

New and upcoming reality shows

  1. CBS will air the six-hour series The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey over three nights in September, investigating the death of the six-year-old 20 years ago. The show will follow “original investigators” and “new experts” who will be “meticulously recreating the crime scene by rebuilding full-scale replicas of key rooms from the Ramsey house, conducting extensive interviews and introducing new theories,” according to CBS. It’s produced by Critical Content.
  2. Taking Fire (Discovery, Sept. 12, Mondays) follows men of the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan—actually, in the Taliban stronghold of the Korengal Valley. The network calls “a character-driven serial, showing the impact of war on a handful of men during the course of their year on the frontlines.” Their experience is “illustrated with real combat footage shot on helmet cameras and handy cams” and “takes viewers along for a visceral experience not witnessed in news reports or traditional documentary portrayals of war.” It’s produced by Raw TV.
  3. Whoopi Goldberg and 44 Blue Productions are joining together for Strut (Oxygen, Sept. 20), which “follows transgender models Laith De La Cruz, Dominique Jackson, Isis King, Ren Spriggs and Arisce Wanzer as they chase their passions of becoming household names in the fashion world while challenging stereotypes of gender and beauty.” Also in the cast: Slay Model Management’s Cecilio Asuncion and Cassandra Cass; the agency is the first transgender modeling agency. In a release, Whoopi said the models “are also fighting to break down barriers and taking on the responsibility of representing the transgender community in today’s society. It’s time to separate caricature from real people and that’s what we are doing with Strut.”
  4. The Voice on Snapchat (Snapchat, Aug. 22, Mondays) is a five-episode spin-off of The Voice that “will feature this season’s coaches—Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys—reviewing the user-submitted videos. Each week, one coach will select an artist they want representing their team,” according to NBC.
  5. Beat Shazam (Fox) was announced at TCA and involves the music-identifying app Shazam. The show, whose format has been around for at least two years, has teams competing against each other. The winning team faces off against Shazam, trying to identify music faster. It’s produced by Mark Burnett and Jeff Apploff, the creator of Fox’s former music competition series Don’t Forget the Lyrics.
  6. One Shot (BET) is American Idol for hip hop artists, on which the winner will receive a recording contract and $100,000. It’s produced by country music singer Mike Smith, who stars alongside MTV’s Sway; judges will include TI, DJ Khaled, RZA, and Tech N9NE. In a press release, Smith said, “I’m sure folks are wondering what a country music singer is doing sitting alongside Kxng Crooked, King Tech, TI, DJ Khaled and RZA. I’ve written with a lot of these guys for a number of years. What I bring to the panel is songwriting knowledge and how to string lyrics and music composition together so that the rapper can easily jump in. We’re looking for a performer that has the natural talent to do just that and connect with mainstream America.”
  7. James Corden’s Late Late Show bit Drop the Mic is becoming a series on TBS (2017).
  8. James Corden’s Late Late Show bit Carpool Karaoke is becoming a series on Apple Music.
  9. Spike—home to another late-show spin-off series, Lip Sync Battle—announced that it will air Caraoke Showdown, which will be hosted by Craig Robinson and play out like Cash Cab.
  10. Fight of the Living Dead: Experiment 88 (YouTube Red, August) follows 10 YouTube stars who are stranded in an abandoned hospital full of zombies (or, you know, actors dressed as zombies). YouTube says they’ll be “thrown into a simulated zombie apocalypse and forced to fight their way through an abandoned hospital.” It’s another scripted/reality hybrid for YouTube Red, which also has the Clue-ish reality competition Escape the Night.
  11. FYI has ordered Downton Shabby, which gets a prize for best name if nothing else. On the series, “renovation and design experts” Frank and Sherry Fontana will “renovate, remodel and ultimately revive” vintage homes “into modern masterpieces.” It’s produced by 3 Ball Entertainment and will air this fall.
  12. GSN, home to Skin Wars and other talent competitions that have been all but abandonded by Bravo and other networks, greenlit another similar series: Window Warriors. It’s a competition set in “the intensely competitive and theatrical world of visual merchandising,” according to GSN. Six episodes have been ordered. GSN is also developing Glass Wars, a competition between glassblowers that’s produced by Magical Elves.
  13. My Kitchen Rules (Fox, midseason) is a competition between pairs of celebrities who host dinner parties that will be judged by Curtis Stone (ugh) and Cat Cora. Among the celebrities: Brandy, Ray J, Lance Bass, Andrew Dice Clay, and Naomi Judd.
  14. Fear Factor and Wipeout executive producer Matt Kuntiz is producing Kicking & Screaming (Fox, midseason), which “teams 10 expert survivalists with pampered partners to face the toughest challenges of their lives.” Hosted by New Girl’s Hannah Simone, it’s basically Naked and Afraid except with clothes and one wildly incompetent participant. It filmed in Fiji recently.
  15. Martha & Snoop’s Dinner Party (VH1). Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, who most recently appeared on television together as the celebrities on an episode of ABC’s $100,000 Pyramid, will have a weekly dinner party with other celebrities. The network describes it as “a half-baked evening of cocktails, cooking, conversation, and fun where nothing is off limits.” It’s produced by SallyAnn Salsano’s 495 Productions.
  16. The Race Card (TNT, 2017). Charles Barkley stars and hosts, and called the show “a way to talk about race, class and cultural differences and challenge everyone’s status quo.” TNT’s press release said that he “wants to bust up the echo chamber mentality that so often has people retreating to corners of the like-minded, where views are reinforced and ideas are distorted into angry, unexamined groupthink conclusions,” and will do that “with real-world proof-of-concept tests that will engage people and expose the truth behind their closely held beliefs.” (One writer argues why this isn’t a good idea.) It’s produced by Turner’s Studio T, DocShop Inc., and Kin Studios.
  17. Three 1990s television stars will have their lives taped for Hollywood Darlings (Pop), which follows “lifelong friends” Jodie Sweetin, of Full House fame; 7th Heaven’s  Beverley Mitchell, and Step By Step’s Christine Lakin. The network calls it “a new unscripted docu-comedy series” and will air eight half-hour episodes.
  18. The Apprentice winner Bill Rancic will star in two new series produced by Marriott—yes, the hotel chain. The shows are filming this summer and are “a travel documentary set in Venice, Italy, and a six-part short-form digital series centered around small businesses and motivated individuals in the heart of America.” They’ll air online and in Marriott rooms.
  19. The “world behind and beyond the crime, often just out of sight…a world we may fear, but may not know or understand” and the “often nefarious players and foreboding places behind the crimes surrounding them” are the subject of Scene of the Crime with Tony Harris (Investigation Discovery, 2017). ID president Henry Schleiff said that Tony’s “uniquely passionate and articulate approach to investigative journalism was eye opening to our viewers around the world and, accordingly, we were eager to expand his role, allowing us to see first-hand, his work at the scene of a crime, as he peels back the layers on what motivates some of our nation’s most horrific acts of violence.”
  20. The documentary series American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story (Amazon, 2017) tells the story of the magazine and Hugh Hefner starting in 1953 and continuing through today. The series will use interviews with Hefner, Playboy’s archives, and reenactments.
  21. Holy Foley (WWE Network, August) will follow the WWE star Mick Foley. The network said it will be “a comedic, behind-the-scenes look into the life of WWE Hall of Famer, husband and father Mick Foley and his unique relationship with his daughter Noelle.”
  22. Cosmo Life (E!) is a reality series set at Cosmopolitan magazine, which the network oversells just slightly by saying it “follows the work-hard, play-hard lifestyles of a group of young tastemakers at the cutting edge of what’s hot in music, fashion, style, beauty, sex and celebrities, often opening up their own lives to millions of readers around the globe” as they “juggle the temptations of New York’s hottest celebrity parties and VIP nightlife with the demands of their passionate and formidable Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles.” It’s produced by Bunim-Murray Productions.
  23. Employees at the West Hollywood gay bar The Abbey will be featured in The Abbey Diaries (E!), on which “staffers wrangle VIP guests and celebrities while dealing with relationship drama, diverse sexuality and the pursuit of their individual Hollywood dreams,” according to the network.
  24. Trophy wives are the subject of Famously Married (E!), which will be produced by Studio Lambert and stars unnamed women “who recently married or are currently planning to marry wealthy and successful older men.”
  25. E! is spinning off its series WAGS, which stands for Wives and Girlfriends of Sports Stars, for WAGS: Miami (E!). The eight women were not named in the announcement. The show will be produced by Machete Productions, which also produces CNBC’s The Profit.
  26. Comedy Central announced its “unprecedented commitment” to a documentary series that sounds similar to ESPN’s 30 by 30. That’s because the network will “invite notable comedy talent, writers, producers and directors to tell a specific story that is personal, unique and anchored in comedy.” The project was created by Drunk History executive producer Jeremy Konner and documentary producer Emma Pildes, and they’ll work with Susan Lacy, who created PBS’ American Masters.

Renewed reality shows

  1. Esquire’s documentary reality series Friday Night Tykes will be back for a fourth season and…
  2. Friday Night Tykes: Steel Country has been renewed for a second season. The Texas version will have 10 episodes; the Pennsylvania version gets eight episodes.
  3. The travelogue/spiritual quest series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman was renewed for a second season on National Geographic. As the network said, it became “the network’s most-watched series of all time.” It’ll return in early 2017.
  4. The Real Housewives of Potomac got a second season. Bravo said it was “the network’s highest-rated freshman series since Vanderpump Rules among P18-49 and P25-54 and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in total viewers.”
  5. GSN renewed Hellevator for a four-episode Halloween event airing this fall.
  6. Up renewed its family reality series Bringing Up Bates (for season five) and Growing Up McGhee (for a second season).
  7. Netflix’s new Last Chance U, which follows football players at East Mississippi Community College, was renewed for a second season shortly after its first debuted.
  8. America’s Got Talent will return for season 12 with the season-11 judging panel, including Simon Cowell.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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