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The 18 most-popular reality blurred stories of 2018

The 18 most-popular reality blurred stories of 2018
The sun is setting on another year. Goodbye, 2018! We'll miss you. (Photo by Jordan Wozniak/Unsplash)

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

18. How The Carbonaro Effect is produced: an interview with Michael Carbonaro

Michael Carbonaro, The Carbonaro Effect

Magician Michael Carbonaro after tricking an unsuspecting customer on The Carbonaro Effect. (Photo by truTV)

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.


17. A review of The Final Table, Netflix’s attempt at MasterChef

Ash Heeger, Alex Haupt, The Final Table episode 1, Netflix

The only sparks you’ll see on The Final Table’s first episode are here, courtesy of Ash Heeger (right) and her teammate Alex Haupt. (Photo by Adam Rose/Netflix)

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.


16. Fall 2018 reality TV schedule and guide

Fall 2018 reality TV schedule, duck on lake in Finland

A duck in Kuopio, Finland, during the fall. (Photo by Niilo Isotalo/Unsplash)

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.


15. Jeff Probst no longer makes Survivor for fans. Instead, he makes it for these people.

Jeff Probst, Survivor Ghost Island reunion

Jeff Probst during the live Survivor Ghost Island reunion, pointing away from the people he now makes Survivor for. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS Entertainment)

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…


14. Survivor Edge of Extinction: What we know so far about Survivor season 38

Survivor Extinction Island, Survivor 38

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.


13. Amazing Race 32 casting teams of two—and Lynne Spillman is involved

Amazing Race season 30 starting line, Amazing Race season 32 casting

Phil Keoghan starts The Amazing Race 30 in New York City. Amazing Race 31 just concluded and Amazing Race 32 is now casting. (Photo by Timothy Kuratek/CBS)

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!)


12. Celebrity Fear Factor air date and cast, including Survivor, Big Brother, Bachelor alum

Celebrity Fear Factor, Rachel Lindsay, Bryan Abasolo

Bachelorette couple Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo will be competing on Celebrity Fear Factor. (Screen shot by MTV)

MTV brought back Celebrity Fear Factor—but delayed the celebrity episodes, including one featuring reality stars from network shows, for months.


11. Amazing Race season 31 teams: a ‘reality clash’ of TAR vs. Big Brother vs. Survivor

Phil Keoghan, Amazing Race 31, TAR31, season 31

Phil Keoghan in a video he posted from the starting line for Amazing Race 31, which features teams from Big Brother, Survivor, and Amazing Race competing against each other.

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.


10. Poppi Kramer, comedian and Biggest Loser season 3 at-home winner, has died

Poppi Kramer, Biggest Loser season 3

Poppi Kramer, who represented New Jersey on The Biggest Loser season 3 (Photo by NBC)

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.


9. How is BB20’s Tyler Crispen on TKO: Total Knock Out tonight, too?

Tyler BB20, Big Brother 20, TKO: Total Knock Out, Kevin Hart

Big Brother 20 houseguest Tyler Crispen with host Kevin Hart on another CBS show, TKO: Total Knock Out. He did not leave the BB20 house to film this appearance. (Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS)

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.


8. Angelina’s Survivor negotiation was funny TV. But that’s not the full story.

Angelina Keeley, Survivor David vs. Goliath episode 10 negotiation

Angelina Keeley during her Survivor David vs. Goliath episode 10 negotiation, which was ridiculed even by CBS. (Image by CBS Entertainment)

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.


7. The Challenge season 33 cast includes two Big Brother winners

Josh Martinez, Big Brother 19, The Challenge season 33

Big Brother 19 winner Josh Martinez, who’s competing on The Challenge season 33. (Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS)

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.


6. Cup Board Pro, pitched on Shark Tank by its creator’s kids, sold $1 million—and sold out

Christian Young, Keira Young and Kaley Young pitch their dad’s invention, Cup Board Pro, on Shark Tank. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC)

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.


5. Gold Rush season 9: When it’s returning, and who it will focus on

Gold Rush, Parker Schnabel

Gold Rush star Parker Schnabel. (Photo by Discovery Channel)

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.


4. Survivor’s casting director, Lynne Spiegel Spillman, was fired, a former contestant says

Survivor casting director Lynne Spiegel Spillman, Jeff Probst, 2017 Emmy casting director nominee

Survivor casting director Lynne Spiegel Spillman with Survivor host and showrunner Jeff Probst at a reception for casting director Emmy nominees on Sept. 7, 2017. (Photo by Television Academy)

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.


3. When Life Below Zero will return for season 11, and who it will follow

Life Below Zero Sue Aikens crash aftermath

Life Below Zero’s Sue Aikens (Photo by Jared Staeyaert/BBC Worldwide Ltd)

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.


2. Why Deadliest Catch’s Johnathan Hillstrand didn’t actually retire

Johnathan Hillstrand, Deadliest Catch

Johnathan Hillstrand, Time Bandit co-captain and Deadliest Catch star, up until his retirement at the end of season 13. (Photo by Discovery)

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.


1. The Last Alaskans will return for season 4 in late 2018, and include Bob Harte’s death

Bob Harte, The Last Alaskans season 4

Bob Harte, one of the stars of The Last Alaskans, before his death, which was included in season 4 of the reality series. (Photo by Discovery Channel)

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.

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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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