Happy Monday morning, if you’re looking at computer or phone screen this holiday week Monday, which seems to be a day most people are writing off—me too!—because of the way it’s sandwiched between a federal holiday and a weekend.
More stories are coming later this week—including an interview with The Amazing Race‘s Phil Keoghan—but for these two holiday days, here’s some reality TV-related reading: longer features, followed by some recent news. Enjoy!
Vox’s Caroline Framke takes a deep dive into the fanbase for RuPaul’s Drag Race, from kids inspired by its message of acceptance to its more toxic fans.
EW traces RuPaul’s life via interviews with Ru and others, including Lady Bunny, Michelle Visage, and World of Wonder’s Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato.
Ryan Seacrest Rebooted: ‘Live,’ a New York Move and the Bumpy Road Back to ‘Idol’ (Hollywood Reporter)
A profile of Ryan Seacrest that looks at his new job, co-hosting Live with Kelly Ripa, and his probable return to American Idol. That, however, was almost derailed, in part by production company Fremantle’s desperation to land a big-name judge before upfronts, and spending $25 million on Katy Perry drained its resources.
It’s a fascinating story and also doesn’t exactly fill me full of hope for the way Fremantle is approaching this reboot of American Idol. These reports make it seem desperate and haphazard, not deliberate and thoughtful.
Joanna Arcieri analyzes June Shannon’s reality TV comeback on WE tv’s Mama June: From Not to Hot, which followed the cancellation of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo after June was revealed to be dating the man who’d sexually abused her daughter a decade earlier. It’s a thoughtful, detailed history and analysis which concludes June “has achieved the ultimate rehabilitation of the female grotesque” and how her show “gives audiences permission to ignore June’s failings as a woman and parent, for the sake of entertainment.”
HGTV’s hidden dark side (The Outline)
HGTV shows engage in fantasy and escapism, which is why the network was the third most-popular channel on all of television last year. But as this piece explores, the reality of housing for many people is far different, and there is a major “divide between wealthy house hunters and those being displaced by gentrification and lack of affordable housing.”
A fun but also insightful look at the show’s evolution over 14 years. For example, I’d totally forgotten that Trista did not meet anyone in costume or otherwise trying to impress her with a producer-orchestrated gimmick. The show really has changed a lot since then.
Reality show star news
- Shark Tank star Daymond John talked about having stage-two thyroid cancer, and said, “I have another half of my thyroid still in and in the event that it comes back, “I’ll be able to fight it. Thyroid is a very slow-growing cancer.” (Good Morning America)
- The Bachelorette season eight contestant Michael Nance was found dead May 30. He was 31. Police are investigating but did not find his death to be suspicious. (Austin Statesman)
- The Comeback actor Robert Michael Morris, who played Valerie Cherish’s stylist Mickey Deane, also died May 30. Kudrow wrote on Twitter, “He left us with many wonderful gifts, most importantly, an example of what a truly good soul looks like.”
- Kathy Griffin was fired from her CNN New Year’s Eve hosting gig with Anderson Cooper after she posted a GIF and photo in which she’s holding a fake head that resembles Donald Trump and is covered in fake blood. She tweeted, “OBVIOUSLY, I do not condone ANY violence by my fans or others to anyone, ever! I’m merely mocking the Mocker in Chief.” While she apologized in a video, those tweets and Instagram posts have since been deleted.
- Two-time RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Trixie Mattel talks about the effects of the show on drag, starting with how drag has “been neutered for television. People come to my shows all the time and don’t seem to realize how dark and gross and vulgar and heavy and how political drag gets, because they’ve only seen the Disney version of it on TV. Drag Race is one facet of a huge subculture that existed before reality television and will exist after.” (Mic)
- Teen Mom OG cast member Ryan Edwards went to rehab for substance abuse. (E! News)
Reality show and industry news
- Moving to VH1 worked well for RuPaul’s Drag Race: season 9 was the show’s most-watched season ever, with 859,000 viewers watching the finale. VH1 also said among viewers 18 to 49, there was a 218 percent increase for finale viewership, and a 122 percent increase for the season.
- The return of Fear Factor did very well for MTV: the network said that the show delivered the network’s highest rated series premiere in two years” among people ages 18 to 34, which increased “a whopping +164% vs. time period average,” making it that “Tuesday’s #1 unscripted show on cable (P18-34) and helped deliver MTV’s best Tuesday in a year and a half.”
- MTV’s early unscripted series Cribs is coming back, but only on Snapchat, where each episode (is that the right word?) will be available for just 48 hours.
- The Amazing Race 29 gave trips for two as prizes for coming in first during six different legs—but those prizes were just one trip, given to two strangers, meaning they’d have to travel together or give it to just one person. Thankfully, that cheap decision worked out, because the three teams that won trips each happened to win two of them. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Another season of The Comeback is “always a possibility,” Lisa Kudrow said at the ATX TV Festival in Austin. The show’s co-creator, Michael Patrick King, said, TV is so desperate now. It’s finally caught up to Valerie.” (Variety)
- An April premiere party for Apple Music’s Carpool Caroke, a full version of the James Corden bit, was cancelled, and now the show’s debut has been pushed back to August. (Hollywood Reporter)
- The return of Cash Cab will be hosted by its four-time Emmy-winning original host/driver, Ben Bailey. In a press release, he said, “Holy #%$&!! Cash Cab is back!!! HUGE thanks to all the fans who pushed for the show (and for me) to come back! Never before has a comedian been so happy to go back to driving a cab. OMG I think I left the meter running!”
- The 25-year-old government contractor arrested for leaking this classified document to a media outlet name is named Reality Winner. That’s actually her name: Reality Leigh Winner. At first I thought that was a code name and she was a reality TV competition winner, but nope, her name is just Reality Leigh Winner. (The Outline)
- The 2016 Emmys will be the first to award an Emmy for casting a reality show. Rob Owen talked to several casting directors about why casting is so different—and difficult—for reality shows. (Variety)