Two decades and two years ago today, I registered realityblurred.com and made this site live to the world.
I had no idea it’d last this long, or even that these electronic pages would be visited 6.9 million times in the past 365 days, which is still impossible for me to comprehend.
Ultimately, I’m just sharing what I love and learn about my favorite genre.
On past anniversaries, I’ve detailed how and why I created this site, and the teachers who taught me the skills that helped make that possible. I also shared a highlight reel of its first two decades.
This year, I wanted to express my gratitude to specific people, organizations, and tools who/that make reality blurred possible. I’m one person creating media, and I get a lot of behind-the-scenes support.
Of course, 22 is an arbitrary number, and there’s more than what’s here, but it’s a start.
These are in no particular order, and while some are very personal, I hope others can be of help to you!
- Patreon supporters: Ya’ll are amazing. You don’t need to pay to read reality blurred, but you give actual money—whether for a few months or multiple years now—to help support my work, and I’m so grateful for that.
- Newsletter subscribers: Our e-mail inboxes are full and overflowing, but you’ve invited me into yours, and I hope I make it worth it with my hand-crafted Friday notes updating you on my life and what I’ve written in the past week.
- Feedly: I still miss Google Reader, but I love Feedly. It’s free, and helps me follow a bunch of sites at once, creating my own news feed that is not subjected to fucking Facebook’s algorithm and data collection. As a bonus: you can follow reality blurred there, too!
- Todoist: I need to write things down and make lists—such as lists of shows are coming up that I might want to review, and a list of dream interviews—and Todoist makes all of those lists available to me an aesthetically pleasing environment on all my devices.
- PublishPress plugins: I use these for multiple things behind-the-scenes here, including guest authors. I’m a visual person, so I love PublishPress’s calendar that allows me to color-code articles by status, and quickly shows me what’s published, scheduled, and planned.
- WordPress and the open source community: reality blurred runs on WordPress, an open source CMS, and has used other open-source code behind-the-scenes. Also, a related shout out to both Blogger.com (on which reality blurred was born) and the early versions of Movable Type (which powered the site pre-WordPress).
- All the people I’ve interviewed. I appreciate their time and insight, whether that’s the cast and crew of Amazing Race season 1 sharing their memories, or someone reaching out via e-mail with an on-background tip.
- Network and show publicists who facilitate interviews, keep me apprised of new shows, and help me find answers to questions. I know some of my questions and/or writing might make their lives more difficult! But I’m grateful for the professional relationship that is, I hope, mutually respectful and beneficial.
- The Television Critics Association: I’ve been a member of the TCA since 2008. A few years ago, I was elected to its Board of Directors, and am so glad to be able to give back to the organization, which has done so much for me. Membership has allowed me to be in the room at twice-annual press tours, where I can ask tough questions of those in power, or annoy them. It’s also amazing to have met the people I read in newspaper and magazines growing up—and to now share space with those colleagues whose work I love and appreciate.
- People who also cover reality TV. This is a broad category, and includes social media luminaries like the tireless Big Brother feed-watcher Hamsterwatch and the MTV spoiler PinkRose, to podcasters and journalists who take deep dives into shows and issues. There are so, so many reality TV shows now, and while 20 years ago today, I was the only person attempting to track it all, I was never the only person writing about it, and I’m grateful for this ever-expanding community.
- Mediavine: A company created by other small publishers, Mediavine not only helps me earn money with advertising, but also strives to provide the best user experience for readers. Even better, it’s a company that actually lives by its values. That’s one reason I partnered with them to teach an upcoming free class, and later this summer, a week-long writing workshop for bloggers.
- Agathon: Every website needs servers, and mine come from Agathon. Before I switched to them for hosting, I heard quite a few raves, and they’ve absolutely lived up to that acclaim. I actually know the names of the people who provide technical support, and appreciate all they do to keep the technical side of things running.
- Unsplash, Pexels, and the creators who use those platforms. When I need a stock photo, I often turn to the creators who’ve shared their work there. I’m so grateful for their creativity and generosity. I also use their photos as seasonal wallpaper for my phone and Gmail fun backgrounds that allow me to pretend I’m, say, looking over the mountains instead of at a Florida swamp.
- Network photographers who provide the media with on-location photos. There are fewer of them than there used to be, but I’m always thrilled when network press sites offer vivid photos of contestants and cast members to help illustrate my stories.
- My cat co-workers. I’ve had three cats during reality blurred’s life. The first was with me at its founding, and made the move from Chicago to Florida with me, and lived through the 11th anniversary. Of the two newer members of the family, one died in 2020, while the other is still with us, and actually sitting next to me as a I type this sentence, though she’s currently involved in some very intensive self-cleaning.
- My husband. Besides all sorts of things like, you know, love and support, he’s a great editor, helping me kick around ideas for headlines and refine my writing. He also helps me process my thoughts, so I do slightly less emotional vomiting on the Internet than I used to.
- Family. From my dad helping me use my first computer, a Commodore 64, to my Mom introducing me to Mister Rogers and Sesame Street, to my sister’s friendship—never mind shelter and school and stuff—they created a solid foundation for my success. And I also appreciate the relatives who ask me to explain what exactly it is I do: “Are you still doing that blog thing?”
- Friends. My family of choice has always embraced my love of reality TV and my atypical career path, whether they watch Survivor with me or challenge me during intellectually stimulating conversations.
- The people I’ve taught over the past 20 years. I finished my 40th semester and 20th year of teaching in May, and am taking an unpaid year off to figure out if I want to continue undergraduate teaching for another 20 years. I already miss interacting daily with people who are eager to learn, and helping them find ways to improve things they care about. It’s so creatively fulfilling to spend time around other passionate writers and journalists.
- All of you who’ve taken the time to comment or e-mail me—and especially to offer corrections and/or disagreement. As I write in the sidebar on every page here, I offer my opinions and perspectives to start a conversation, not to pretend that I am definitively right. (Of course, in my reporting, I strive to be as accurate and factual as possible!)
- Reality TV show crew. We wouldn’t have reality TV if it weren’t for the mostly freelance crew members who do all the hard work, from standing in the field recording audio for hours and days and weeks, or sifting through hundreds of hours of footage to craft a story.
- Reality TV show cast. Certainly, not all of them are deserving of praise, and some are deserving of condemnation and/or incarceration (ahem). But I wouldn’t have had this unexpected career if it hadn’t been for the people who agree to have their lives taped and edited into entertainment.