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reality blurred’s 15 most-popular reality TV stories of 2016

reality blurred’s 15 most-popular reality TV stories of 2016
The sun is setting on this year. Goodbye, 2016. (Photo by Frank McKenna)

2016 is drawing to a close, and for many of us people, it cannot end fast enough. This year was full of devastating losses of people whose contributions to culture were life-changing, never mind a brutal presidential election that concluded with the election of a man who’s been best known for being a reality TV star.

But 2016 was also a year in which we watched a lot of great television, and reality TV gave us so many wonderful moments to share with each other, whether in person with friends or online with fellow fans. There was a lot of great reality TV this year! We may long for the past and have anxiety about the future, but what we have right now includes a connection with each other via our TV screens, whether it’s discovering how others live and work, seeing experiences through someone else’s eyes, being reminded of the deep pain of loss, or just enjoying joyous frivolity.

To close the year on reality blurred, I’ve gathered together this list of the most-read stories were that I published since last January, and they range from a new twist on a popular series to news about an old (but changed) favorite. Altogether, I published 487 stories this year, ranging from previews to reviews to in-depth interviews.

Enjoy this brief time capsule, and enjoy the final few days of 2016. Thanks so much for reading reality blurred this year, and I’ll look forward to a brand-new year of reality TV coverage starting on Monday. Happy New Year!

15. Real World is returning to Seattle for season 32

Real World 32, location, house, Real World Seattle, space needle, Seattle at night

The Real World went back to Seattle to film its 32nd season, where it aired a season that broke with tradition by casting another MTV reality star, but mostly just reminded us of how broken this franchise has become since it first visited Seattle.

14. Big Brother cast member repeatedly used anti-gay slurs on social media

Corey Brooks, Big Brother 18, BB18

Another season of Big Brother, another houseguest using anti-gay slurs on social media. Once in the house, Corey laughed as he told a story about a goat being set on fire, and also casually used homophobic language.

13. The problem with Big Brother’s disingenuous Diary Room interviews

Big Brother 18, Bronte D'Acquisto, Diary Room, BB18

The increasingly inauthentic, increasingly obnoxious interviews on Big Brother led me to write this essay. Whether they’re being fed lines, forced to narrate things that we already understand because we’ve just watched them, or just told to repeat what they said, it makes for a painful experience. Just let them talk, please!

12. Survivor’s Taylor is having a baby in November, but not with Figgy

Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X, Taylor Stocker

An on-screen relationship between two Survivor millennials had a dramatic conclusion after the game ended, when Taylor learned he was going to become a father, and as Figgy said, she learned “some things about people in their real life that you didn’t know on the island.”

11. Survivor 34 cast identified; chaotic casting changes its twist

Survivor Kaoh Rong, Tai Trang, Aubry Bracco

News of the cast of Survivor: Game Changers, an all-returnee cast, was revealed almost 10 months before the season will eventually debut (it’s a later start date than normal).

10. Cold Justice cancelled by TNT

Cold Justice, Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McClary

TNT quietly dumped one of its most-popular reality series, Cold Justice, on which investigators looked into cold cases. I first reported its cancellation. Months later, one of its stars confirmed the end of the show in a Facebook comment, but there has otherwise been no public announcement or discussion of its end—an odd end for a popular series that became the victim of a network’s rebranding.

9. Spring 2016 reality shows schedule and guide

spring 2016 reality TV shows schedule and guide

I published four quarterly reality show debut schedules this year, but for some reason, spring got more love than the other three.

8. Doug Llewelyn is back on The People’s Court starting today

Doug Llewelyn, The People's Court

This year, the 1980s returned to television in the form of a Double Dare reunion—and possible revival of the show itself, with Marc Summers hosting—and also on the long-running People’s Court, when original court reporter Doug Llewelyn returned.

7. ‘Violent reaction’ to Dual Survival’s new season, survivalist Bill McConnell

Dual Survival Bill McConnell Grady Powell

Changing the cast of Dual Survival from Matt Graham and Joseph Teti to Bill McConnell and Grady Powell created what its executive producer described as a “violent reaction” from fans.

6. The Amazing Race: renewed but not on CBS’ fall schedule

Amazing Race, Phil Keoghan, puffin, Scotland

The absence of The Amazing Race on CBS’ fall schedule sent people search for information about what happened to the show. Eventually, CBS scheduled The Amazing Race 29—but fans will have to wait even longer to see it. The show also didn’t film a season this November, as it usually does, so there are a warning signs that suggest the show may be in trouble.

5. Why the Cornelia Marie won’t be on Deadliest Catch season 13

Deadliest Catch, Josh Harris, Phil Harris, Jake Harris

Discovery and the producers of Deadliest Catch decided to exclude the Cornelia Marie from the 13th season, which has not yet debuted. But fans of the show—and the boat, once captained by Phil Harris, whose death was covered on the series—are not happy. (In an unrelated story, Phil Harris’ son Jake Harris was robbed and severely beaten in November.)

4. Amazing Race 29 teams: strangers paired from a schoolyard pick

Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race 28, TAR28, TAR 29 cast

As I first reported early this year, The Amazing Race 29 did something very different: it cast an entire season of strangers and then let them choose their own teams of two. For a show that stood out for casting pairs that had pre-existing relationships, it’s quite a change.

3. Review: Jail is awful, and so is A&E’s 60 Days In

A&E, 60 Days In, Barbra, Clark County Jail

A&E may have ended the year by attempting to erase its latest bad idea, but another one aired: 60 Days In, which followed—and badly edited—innocent people who went to jail and were filmed for some reason. My less-than-thrilled review of that series

2. Four players returning for Big Brother 18, and another cast twist

Big Brother 18, coaches, Ian Terry, Audrey Middleton, BB18

The second-most popular story this year was the one that I got wrong: the identities of four returning players for Big Brother 18. I had bad information that I confirmed with trustworthy people who had more bad information, and that led me to have to correct and explain what went wrong. While being wrong happens in journalism and in life, and in both, it’s important to acknowledge mistakes, it’s still painful.

1. Big Brother will air season 19 this fall

Big Brother Over the Top

My report that Big Brother would air a fall season, later revealed to be online-only, and then later confirmed by other media, was the most-read story of the year on reality blurred. Perhaps because the season, called Big Brother: Over the Top was available to subscribers only, and aired immediately after Big Brother 18 concluded, there was less interest in the season itself, though it changed several things that should (but won’t) carry over to the summer season.

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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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