A few days remain in 2018, so it’s the time of year when we look back reflectively and/or try to pretend this year never happened while looking ahead to 2019.
To close out the year, I’ve looked through traffic data for reality blurred stories, and gathered together this list of the most-popular stories of the past year. The list below is in reverse chronological order, so read it like a countdown.
As I’ve disclaimed in previous years: Popularity isn’t necessarily a measure of quality, for either the subject matter or my story about it, but it is one indication and illustration of what interested people this year—and, of course, what I covered in these pages.
Many of these stories involve well-known reality TV stars, so it makes sense that they’d be more frequently sought out, whether people were searching or clicking links that other people shared.
Thanks for joining me in watching, learning, thinking about, and loving reality TV this year, whether you just found reality blurred or have been with me since the beginning.
I look forward to a wonderful 2019. Happy New Year!
reality blurred’s most-popular stories of the year
The Carbonaro Effect star Michael Carbonaro was candid in my interview with him, talking about everything from how the show’s editing conceals tricks to having a cross-over with RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I wasn’t a big fan of Netflix’s take on the giant soundstage cooking competition, but a lot of people read my review over the long Thanksgiving weekend—some of whom agreed and some who didn’t.
Even in this era of streaming and non-stop television, the fall TV season is still a thing, and my quarterly guide of reality show debuts was visited frequently. Perhaps that was to see what networks had in store, or perhaps it was just to view this magnificent photo of a duck.
I was nervous about Survivor David vs. Goliath—not just because of the cheesy theme and the wretched editing during Survivor Ghost Island, but because of what Jeff Probst said in an interview about his “really great experiment” and realization during filming of season 37.
Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. I hope that’s the case for…
Interest in next season of Survivor is high—perhaps because we just came off one of the best seasons ever, or perhaps because of season 38’s insane/controversial/ludicrous twist.
Although The Amazing Race 31 will involve teams of reality stars (see below), season 32 started casting this year for regular people. A significant part of this news: Lynne Spillman was involved in the process, meaning she wasn’t fired from CBS reality TV casting, just from Survivor. (More about that below, too!)
MTV brought back Celebrity Fear Factor—but delayed the celebrity episodes, including one featuring reality stars from network shows, for months.
The next Amazing Race season (which will air in summer 2019) filmed in summer 2018. After weeks of fragmented reporting, including from me, Phil Keoghan tied all the threads together and confirmed the big twist: former Amazing Race teams versus teams of Big Brother and Survivor contestants. Then the sleuths at Reality Fan Forum found out who those teams were.
The death of a beloved comedian and former reality TV competition winner wasn’t covered much in the press, but I did my best to write about Poppi Kramer’s reality TV experience, and gather together thoughts from her friends and colleagues. Her presence on this list indicates how much she meant to people.
CBS continued to confuse people—and fan the flames of conspiracy theories—by casting the same person on its real-time competition show, Big Brother, and on a pre-taped game show.
During the finale of the awesome Survivor David vs. Goliath, there was discussion of the double-standard that women face on Survivor, and one major example was Angelina’s negotiation with Jeff Probst. The show’s editors and producers decided to leave out a lot of key details, and thus made her negotiation appear more comical and inept than it actually was.
MTV is continuing to provide work to former reality TV stars, and season 33 of The Challenge included two winners from CBS’ Big Brother, plus the usual MTV gaggle of peoeple who know how to get drunk and start fights.
The combination of an emotional story and a useful product sent Shark Tank fans searching for information about both. Keith Young, a firefighter who worked on 9/11 cleanup, died (from cancer contracted at ground zero) just a few months before he would have appeared to pitch his product, The Cup Board Pro. His kids subbed for him, and all five sharks invested—and invested their earnings into a charity to help others similarly afflicted.
People can’t get enough of Discovery’s Gold Rush, the network’s most-popular show, and it returned for its ninth season in 2018.
Lynne Spiegel Spillman’s name might not be common knowledge to every Survivor viewer, but her work is: She’s cast the show since its very first season, finding some of television’s most-memorable characters—and I mean all of television, not just reality television. Her shocking exit was blamed on showrunner and host Jeff Probst, who has now taken over the casting process.
News of the return of Life Below Zero, and its cast, was very popular on Facebook and in searches about the National Geographic Channel show.
One of the Deadliest Catch captains, Jonathan Hillstrand, was sent off the show into retirement, but it turns out he returned to crab fishing alongside all the other boats followed for the Discovery Channel show. But his boat, the Time Bandit, wasn’t featured on season 13.
In this story, I reported that The Last Alaskans would return after more than 1.5 years off the air—and that the season would include Bob Harte’s death, which occurred in July 2017. The Discovery Channel show also was in the #1 position last year, perhaps evidence about how much its quiet but powerful humanity resonates with people.