Some of my favorite writing and reporting this year was about The Amazing Race, The Mole, Big Brother, The Masked Singer, Top Chef, and other reality TV shows.(Photo composite of press photos; background 2021 photo by Valentin Balan/Unsplash)
This year, which began with me unveiling a brand-new reality blurred site design, and went from an insurrection to vaccinations, ended up somehow going by fast yet still taking forever to do so.
During that time, I’ve published 303 stories, including this one, all of which I wrote except for three. Some of those were relatively quick updates, while my Amazing Race story was more than 17,000 words long (!).
As the year winds down, I took a stroll through the archives, and picked out 21 stories that stood out to me from 2021, from Survivor and Big Brother to Top Chef and The Real World Homecoming.
Most of these pieces are not single-show reviews—after all, I highlighted my favorite 2021 reality TV shows earlier this month—but reporting, interviews, and/or analysis.
What they have in common, I’d say, is that I learned something from reporting and writing them. I created reality blurred 21 years ago to collect links to fascinating stories, and in some ways, these pieces, many of which are in-depth investigations, are an extension of that.
Some of them celebrate reality TV, others critique it, but all are grounded in my belief that this genre can be great art and also help bring us closer together.
I hope they added to your enjoyment of reality TV, too, and I hope you enjoy either revisiting them or reading them for the first time.
Thanks for reading my stuff this year; for sending me tips, recommendations, and corrections; and for commenting and discussing reality TV with me.
Here’s to a great 2022 with lots of happiness, prosperity, and terrific reality shows and documentary TV for us all. Happy new year!
Both season of the original Mole are now on Netflix, so you can watch or re-watch—and then read along with me, as I re-watched The Mole season 1 and The Mole season 2 this year. They both hold up very well.
But the most-exciting news of the year for me was when I confirmed that Netflix secretly filmed a revival of The Mole in Australia this past summer. It'll probably be on Netflix in 2022, but it's definitely happening!
A potential strike of the people who make reality TV shows—not the top-level producers, but the many craftspeople behind the scenes—prompted me to highlight some of the stories they were sharing about their working conditions. Worth a read!
“NO SEASON 3! NO!” Duff Goldman tweeted at the end of Food Network’s Buddy vs. Duff season 2. Yet Buddy vs. Duff came back for two more seasons this year. Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman are now good friends, but it's still a weird show.
I wrote this piece about the choices Netflix makes, such as giving Colton Underwood his own series, despite his stalking and harassing his Bachelor ex, and portraying Carole Baskin as a murderer while making a folk hero out of the person in prison for attempted murder.
After The Real World Homecoming: New York ended, and I watched some of The Challenge: All-Stars, I compared their approaches to bringing back some of our favorite—and not-so-favorite—stars from the past.
As a fan of Dirty Jobs, I was excited to watch Mike Rowe's new series. And then came each episode's final segment: oil industry propaganda.
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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.
I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.
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