In 2017, a reality show star became the president of the United States, and the presidency and politics certainly dominated headlines. And although reality television itself didn’t break through to the national conversation in the way it has in the past, there was excellent reality television this year—and a lot to talk about, debate, discuss, ponder, question, and celebrate.
On reality blurred, almost six million stories were read this year, and I’ve gathered together those that were most-frequently read—by regular readers like you, fans who shared stories on social media, or people who were in search of information and turned to Google while watching TV.
Enjoy this look back at the year during these waning days of 2017, and here’s to a happy 2018 for you and those you know and love. Thanks for all of your support this year, and I’ll see you next year.
Happy New Year!
Claire Buitendorp and Shawn Buitendorp absolutely dominated most of Project Runway‘s 16th season—though not, alas, because of their talent or clothes.
Extreme cleaning specialist Matt Paxton left Hoarders early last year, concluding with an episode that he told me was “The most difficult hoard I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
CBS tried to introduce a new format this year, but frustratingly concealed the details from viewers, leading to intense interest in the show’s rules. We learned some of them from two of its cast members, and I also learned more about how it was produced by fact-checking a scene from the show.
Next year, MTV is bringing back Jersey Shore‘s cast, but this year, they brought back the Jersey Shore format for a truly ugly series. Before that, they resurrected the format pioneered on Laguna Beach, which made reality TV look more like a drama than a documentary. I talked to the new show’s producers about how they produced it—and how Siesta Key differed from its predecessor.
Those who stuck around to see the end of Big Brother season 19 eventually saw Paul Abrahamian lose the game again, but I gave up long before that. Even second place was too good, consider Paul was wrapped in advantage after advantage by BB19, whose producers don’t seem interested in letting a game play out without tilting the playing field heavily in favor of someone they imagine is a fan favorite.
There’s always interest in new and upcoming seasons of Survivor, even when they eventually turn out to be mostly duds. Oh, I kid Survivor season 35—it was only 80 percent a dud.
Cold Justice was revived by Oxygen, which rebranded in 2017 to become a network focused on true crime. But one of its cast members, Yolanda McClary, didn’t return.
New chairs! A new set! New guest sharks! A new seating chart! Shark Tank was tweaked significantly for its ninth season, and made changes that I really appreciated.
Three of my quarterly updates that list reality show debuts basically tied for 7th place: spring, summer, and fall. Although I publish these four times a year, I update them constantly, usually several times a week, because new shows are added and networks often change their plans.
I interviewed the stars of History Channel’s The Curse of Oak Island, another series that follows an ongoing search for treasure and has become the network’s most-popular series.
Survivor cast member Dan Kay, who was just 40 years old and had two young kids, died on New Year’s Eve last year.
While the cause of death wasn’t public, that didn’t stop E! News from sensationalizing his death and the deaths of other Survivor cast members.
The Amazing Race has reached its milestone 30th season, which will start airing early in the new year. Its cast includes not just another CBS reality show crossover couple, but people who are involved in competitive pursuits and are well-known-ish.
CBS’ version of Big Brother lost its first cast member this week, as BB2 houseguest Kent Blackwelder died last Saturday.
An early Shark Tank season nine episode was dedicated to a person most viewers hadn’t ever heard of before: Iain Anderson, the show’s accountant, who’d recently died.
The serene, meditative, beautifully shot series The Last Alaskans returned for a third season this year, but there was one major change that sent a lot of people to Google during the show: Where were Ray Lewis, Cindy Lewis, and their daughters?