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25 reality TV news and must-read stories: prison, renewals, Netflix, and more

25 reality TV news and must-read stories: prison, renewals, Netflix, and more
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City's Jen Shah (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Bravo)

In this news round-up, I share curated links and brief updates about what’s happening in the world of reality TV this month—along with plenty of sarcasm, skepticism, and/or snark when appropriate.

Feel free to send me links or suggestions—especially for great longreads or in-depth pieces—any time: just send me an e-mail message!

January must-reads

Red Light, Green Light, the first game of Squid Game, in which the players learned they could be killed
Red Light, Green Light, the first game of Squid Game, in which the players learned they could be killed (Image via Netflix)

The New Yorker profiled Bela Bajaria, Netflix’s global head of television, who started at Netflix leading their reality TV efforts.

The profile has been criticized, but I think it offers some insight into the person shaping what Netflix now offers—and there’s a great scene at a meeting of the unscripted team as they discuss everything from Dated and Related to Netflix’s reality TV version of Squid Game. Read it here:

In this excerpt from Evette Dionne’s new book Weightless: Making Space for My Resilient Body and Soul, she writes about My 600-Lb Life, and reality TV in general: “It’s painful to admit that I feel morally superior to fellow fat people on reality television.”

The L.A. Times’ Yvonne Villarreal reports on how The Real Housewives franchise is “an addictively messy and scandal-plagued fantasy epic” for which viewers have “become a vital part of the ‘Housewives’ ecosystem” and “become main characters in their own right”:

January 2023 reality TV news

Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds watch a football game
Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds watch a football game (Photo by Patrick McElhenney/FX)

Marie Kondo’s house is now a mess. ““Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times. I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home,” she told the press during a virtual event. [The Washington Post, 1.26.23]

CNBC cancelled both Kevin O’Leary’s Money Court and Jay Leno’s Garage, which is maybe the least-bad thing to happen to Jay Leno recently, as he got into a motorcycle crash months after burning himself. [Deadline, 1.27.23]

I will not watch TBS’s Power Slap, in no small part because of this, but here are two reviews: Dana White’s Power Slap is the worst thing I’ve ever seen by Eric Blum at Deadspin, and Dana White’s ‘Power Slap’ Is An Abomination by Patrick Redford on Defector. [1.27.23]

Bravo announced the cast of Top Chef World All Stars and its March premiere date. [1.25.23]

I appreciated Rick Ellis’ analysis about Warner Bros. Discovery about how “the culture that is coming from the highest levels of management is making the company’s struggles to find its way even more challenging.” It’s sad that one of the biggest media companies in the world is now led by someone who doesn’t care much about the craft. [Too Much TV, 1.24.23]

The person in charge of programming all of Warner Bros. Discovery’s cable networks, Kathleen Finch, talked about Milf Manor and its gross twist (“We like causing attention”; “We’re not the Learning Channel anymore. TLC is a fun network”) and the lack of diversity on some networks’ shows (“Finding people in these interesting worlds, it is a challenge”). She also said Rat in the Kitchen is cancelled but The Cube and Wipeout will return later this year. [Deadline, 1.24.23]

The film Justice premiered at Sundance, examining assault allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The film was made in secret over the past year; director Doug Liman talked about the process to THR, and says it will allow us “to hear voices that were silenced in 2018,” and executive producer Liz Garbus says it documents “a stunning look at the absence of diligence for one of the most important jobs in our country.” [Hollywood Reporter, 1.20.23]

Too Hot To Handle’s Shawn Wells talked about his experience, and shares fascinating details, including that season four was filmed in summer 2021, it was cast as “Wild Love,” and the cast is never allowed to go in the pool or to the beach. [Houston Chronicle, 1.19.23]

Todd and Julie Chrisley are now in prison. Todd’s prison, in Pensacola, Florida, is “a rare and desirable feature for inmates due to having access to better jobs and recreational activities,” the Pensacola News-Journal reports. Todd is scheduled to be there for 12 years. Julie is at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, for seven years. [Pensacola News Journal, 1.19.23]

Russell Hantz “has been organizing fantasy football leagues for Survivor fans but then failing to pay the winners,” The Spectator reports. One person who lost money, Michael Catalano, said, “Glad to see people will realize that he’s using his reality star status to scam people and up until now has been getting away with it.” [The Spectator, 1.19.23]

Selling The OC was renewed for two more seasons, with Netflix saying filming “will start this winter.” Those returning are Jason and Brett Oppenheim, Alex Hall, Alexandra Jarvis, Alexandra Rose, Austin Victoria, Brandi Marshall, Gio Helou, Kayla Cardona, Lauren Shortt, Polly Brindle, Sean Palmieri, and Tyler Stanaland. [1.18.23]

Amazon is dumping Top Gear and The Grand Tour star Jeremy Clarkson—but only after already-filmed shows air this year. Clarkson wrote a column saying Meghan Markle should “parade naked” while people “throw lumps of excrement at her.” Clarkson posted an apology to Instagram calling his own words “horrible” and saying that Amazon was “incandescent” at him. But do we believe that? In his newsletter, Rick Ellis has a great breakdown of the many, many chances Clarkson has been given after similar fuck-ups. [Variety, 1.16.23]

Welcome to Wrexham (my review) was “the most-watched unscripted show in FX’s history,” FX’s John Landgraf said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Then Ryan Reynolds retweeted my tweet about that, which I think means I get to be in the next Deadpool? [1.12.23]

American Idol 13 finalist CJ Harris died Sunday at age 31. [Alabama Media Group, 1.16.23]

Andy Cohen was challenged about his defense of Jen Shah, and about the Housewives in general, in an interview with Chris Wallace. [CNN, 1.16.23]

Black Twitter, based on a series in Wired magazine, will become a show from Disney’s Onyx Collective for Hulu. Prentice Penny is directing. [1.14.23]

The former NBCU reality TV executive responsible for developing shows such as Chrisley Knows Best, Temptation Island, and Cannonball, among other shows, is now going to run reality TV at The CW. Heather Olander could be programming more than 50 percent of the network’s schedule, Deadline says, now that The CW has new owners. [Deadline, 1.13.23]

Netflix is getting into sports reality TV with two shows: “an as yet untitled series at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, featuring exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage of all 32 teams from the tournament; and Six Nations, an exclusive, inside look at the international rugby tournament,” according to the network. [Netflix, 1.12.23]

The Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip was renewed for season four, which will star Brandi Glanville, Camille Grammer Meyer, Vicki Gunvalson, Caroline Manzo, Eva Marcille, Alex McCord, Phaedra Parks, and Gretchen Rossi. Peacock will also air a second season of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives Club.

If you care to give any more of your life to former Bachelor host Chris Harrison, in a podcast interview summarized by Us Weekly, he actually does say what he did to get fired was wrong (“My apology was warranted. Because I did misstep. And I made a mistake.”) and also manages to compare himself to Harry and Meghan Markle. [Us Weekly, 1.9.23]

Antiques Roadshow will visit Anchorage, Alaska, for the first time. Its other 2023 tour cities are Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Raleigh, N.C., Akron, Ohio, and Sturbirdge, Mass. [WGBH, 1.9.23]

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jen Shah was sentenced to 78 months in prison, or 6.5 years, after pleading guilty last summer to “conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing.” [Department of Justice, 1.6.23]

Lisa Rinna is gone from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; she said in a statement that “Lisa and Bravo have discussed and mutually decided that she will not be returning to RHOBH.” [Los Angeles Times, 1.5.23]

I love a good heist movie, and thus I couldn’t stop watching that Netflix’s Kaleidoscope. Plus, Giancarlo Esposito is so great in this (and everything!). But Netflix’s claim that it was based on a true story? Total bullshit, as Best Evidence reports. [Best Evidence, 1.4.23]

reality blurred updates

An archive of other updates from reality blurred‘s new home page updates section:

  • The Traitors is out today, and I cannot wait to talk with you about it! My review is spoiler-free, but I’ll be writing two recap pieces, kind of like I did with The Mole, full of spoilers.
  • I’m so excited about the return of Tough As Nails tonight (CBS, 9 p.m.). I just love this show so much: for its excellent challenges, creative format, and superb cast. Highly recommended! MastodonTwitter
  • Tuesday’s America’s Got Talent: All Stars is a repeat of Monday’s premiere, even though it was originally scheduled as a new episode (“Auditions 1 Part 2”). Weird.
  • Happy New Year! I hope 2023 is wonderful for you.
  • Listening to Anderson Cooper giggle is a great way to end a year. / TwitterMastodon
  • Welcome to the new home page! I have a few tweaks to do, but please let me know if you see anything super-wonky! Read more about these changes!
  • I’ve also refreshed the support page, should you want to find ways to support reality blurred, or just see fun gradient boxes.
  • After watching eight minutes of The Wheel, I understand why it took almost two years for NBC to burn this off. Just nonsensical game play. / Twitter
  • Glass Onion is just wonderful! Janelle Monáe’s performance is extraordinary. The writing of a tech bro is so absurd it would be parody but instead comes off as explicit references to reality. Highly recommended! / Mastodon

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    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.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!

Cindy Lemm

Friday 20th of January 2023

Love this conglomeration of info! Ryan Reynolds’s SHOULD give you a part in the new Deadpool! I still mourn the death of Bob Harte from The Last Alaskans. Everyone, especially in the first 2 seasons were as real as people get; without producers constantly yammers in their ears or asking them to explain things. We are intelligent viewers. We can figure things out! Thanks, Andy!