In this news round-up, I share links to what’s happening in the world of reality TV, and give special attention to must-read pieces that I loved—along with plenty of sarcasm, skepticism, and/or snark when appropriate.
It’s basically like reality blurred in its early days, when it was a link blog. I’ll update this story throughout the month with reality show news highlights, so bookmark it or check back frequently!
By the way: I’m not covering every story—and certainly not all the celebrity gossip—but highlighting what I find to be the most notable, important, and interesting, which is what I’ve done throughout reality blurred‘s 22-year life.
Please send me links or suggestions any time: just send me an e-mail message!
Now that Adnan Syed has been freed, Sarah Weinman looks at how Serial “broadened the audience for the genre of true crime and exploded the possibilities of what the genre could do,” but also how it missed “criticisms or parallel investigations and media” that has emerged since:
It’s no surprise that the flood of documentaries on streaming services has produced a lot of crap that, at best, is just badly made, and at worst, is ethically problematic and/or full of misinformation. THR digs into what’s happening in the TV doc space:
RuPaul’s Drag Race is copaganda? That’s what Sezin Koehler argues in this piece, which is about how the show “has made space for important social justice moments” but also has been “utilizing cop and prison narratives for laughs”:
Erik Reichenbach may be best known for this moment in Survivor Micronesia, but he should now be known for the witty and vivid comics he’s been creating out of Survivor moments. And he’s recently collected those into a book:
I finally watched an episode of The Final Straw, and then I was curious how the stacks were made. Buzzerblog had me covered with this great interview with its EP, art director, and prop master:
Amy Kaufman reports on Discovery+’s House of Hammer, and how the woman who first came forward to say she was “violently raped” by Hammer (his attorney says all interaction was consensual) declined to participate after telling the directors, “It is extremely inappropriate of you to exploit such a tragic, vulnerable time in many people’s lives, with no regard whatsoever for our healing process and privacy”:
September 2022 reality TV news
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season two contestant Cherry Valentine, who was known as George Ward out of drag, died at age 28. [The Guardian, 9.23.22]
A judge overturned Serial subject Adnan Syed’s conviction, based on evidence that was known in 1999 and in the possession of prosecutors for 23 years. He’s now out of prison, though on home detention while prosecutors have 30 days to decide if they want to try the case again. [Smithsonian, 9.22.22]
Netflix announced that it has renewed Emmy-winner Love on the Spectrum and The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, while a new season of Indian Matchmaking and a new show Jewish Matchmaking are coming next spring. Finally, Love Is Blind is casting for new seasons. [9.22.22]
There’s a new Bachelor—and guess what, it’s another young, bland white guy, Zach Shallcross. Oh, and The Bachelorette’s finale had to rush to announce him so it completely ignored the whole winner-in-blackface thing. [Yahoo, 9.21.22]
Alex vs. America is getting a third season! Food Network said in its announcement that season 2 increased total viewers by 44 percent, and 17 percent among people 18+ and women 18+. Any growth is impressive in this era, and I’m glad more people found it, because it’s a great show. [9.21.22]
CBS’s bad attempt at a celebrity Survivor-ish show has been cancelled after one season. [TV Insider, 9.16.22]
America’s Got Talent is so out of talent that its winner had already won another Got Talent: the dance group Mayyas won Arabs Got Talent in 2019. [mjsbigblog, 9.15.22]
Discovery Channel and ID were named as “must-have” cable channels in a survey of those who still have cable, while 42 percent said Food Network and History Channel were among those “networks [that] were most important to their enjoyment of cable.” [Broadcasting & Cable, 9.14.22]
Masterchef was renewed for a 13th season. [Variety, 9.14.22]
Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk talked about Netflix’s will-not-murder-people reality show version, and basically said critics need to lighten up: “even though our show does carry quite a heavy message — and I know that there are some concerns of taking that message and creating it into a reality show with a cash prize. However, I feel like when you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry. It doesn’t really set a great precedent.” [Variety, 9.13.22]
The first Disney+ Dancing with the Stars cast will have a lot of reality TV stars, from Drag Race’s Shangela to Heidi and Charlie D’Amelio. [Good Morning America, 9.8.22]
Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne are moving back to the UK—and filming a reality show about it. [ABC News, 9.8.22]
CBS said that Big Brother—the TV show, streaming episodes, and the live feeds—has been watched for “nearly 8.3 billion minutes,” which is more than every other streaming show, including Stranger Things and its 8.05 billion minutes. [CBS, 9.7.22]
House of Hammer removed an image that it claimed to be a bite mark caused by Armie Hammer, but was actually a photo of a tattoo that’s on Pinterest. [Variety, 9.6.22]
BBC One will bring back the UK’s version of Survivor in 2023, with 16 episodes, 20 contestants, and two tribes. [BBC, 9.5.22]
Kelly Clarkson won American Idol 20 years ago, and wrote on Instagram about how “it forever changed the course of my life.” She’ll get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sept. 19. [Variety, 9.4.22]
A quick look behind the scenes of the Shark Tank set. I don’t think I realized how expansive it was, and how little space there is for the cameras. [Instagram, 9.2.22]
The documentarian Amy Stechler, who wrote and produced Ken Burns’ first doc Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, and later wrote and directed The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, died in late August. A collaborator told the New York Times, “It’s really important to understand how instrumental Amy was in developing the signature Florentine [Films] style.” [New York Times, 9.1.22]