We’re almost to March, so it’s time to share my February news round-up, which has curated links and brief updates about what’s been happening in the world of reality TV this month—along with sarcasm, skepticism, and/or snark when appropriate.
Please feel free to send me links or suggestions—especially for great long reads or in-depth pieces—any time: just send me an e-mail message!
February must-reads (and a listen)
The podcast UnderUnderstood, which once reported on The Masked Singer’s fake audience, talked to people who were tattooed on MTV’s How Far Is Tattoo Far? to find out if the tattoos were real or fake, and finds the answer is somewhere in-between: real tattoos, but a lighter touch and different ink. Listen:
Documentaries are in high demand, and Reeves Wiedeman reports for Vulture on “the opportunities and the potential drawbacks of the new era”:
- The boom — or glut — in streaming documentaries has sparked a reckoning among filmmakers and their subjects.
“In no way did I pull a scam to get $760,000,” The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Erika Girardi told the reporters of this L.A. Times story:
February 2023 reality TV news
Netflix’s Perfect Match found its winners, Dom and Georgia, who won a vacation. The real question is: Did any of them win the fame and attention that everyone knew would be the only real outcome of this wreck of a show? [Vulture, 2.28.23]
The winner of America’s Got Talent: All Stars is not, incredibly, a mediocre singer, but aerialist Aidan Bryant, with saxophone player Avery Dixon placing second. [NBC, 2.27.23]
Survivor 44 has a showmance. Great, just what Survivor has been missing! [Insider, 2.27.23]
Of Netflix’s Physical: 100’s 100-person cast, “Two participants have been accused of physical assaults in real life. One is under investigation for an alleged assault against his partner,” The BBC reports. [BBC News, 2.27.23]
The subject of the podcast Undisclosed and the ID show Killer in Question, Jeff Titus, was released from prison after 21 years. David Moran of the Innocence Clinic said “credit belongs to Jacinda Davis and Susan Simpson. Davis, at the TV network Investigation Discovery, and Simpson, through the podcast Undisclosed, [who] had raised doubts about Titus’ guilt and questions about Dillon’s possible role.” [Detroit Free Press, 2.24.23]
Reba McEntire is joining The Voice as “Mega Mentor” starting April 17. Season 23 is also bringing back The Playoffs and adding a “Playoff Pass” and a “Steal” during the Knockouts. Sorry, I just fell asleep. [2.22.23]
Netflix is partnering with the NFL to follow quarterbacks throughout the season in a new show Quarterback. Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, and Marcus Mariota will be featured in the first season, which will stream this summer, just in time for football to be long over. [2.22.23]
CBS renewed Survivor, The Amazing Race, Tough As Nails, and Lingo for the 2023-2024 season. Amazing Race already filmed a season in November, and Survivor will start filming soon. [CBS, 2.21.23]
Remember when Trading Spaces and The Great Christmas Light Fight star Carter Oosterhouse was accused of sexual assault? He hired a company, “personally signing an agreement and paying the firm 3,000 euros, or about $3,200,” which managed to get The Hollywood Reporter to delete its story (which they blame on a “technical glitch”; it’s magically back now after journalists enquired). Carter’s story is just one example in a massive story about how “Spain-based firm Eliminalia uses to manipulate online information on behalf of a global roster of clients.” [The Washington Post, 2.17.23]
A Q&A with Andy Cohen about the Housewives franchise, which includes tidbits such as his use of an edible after taping the Potomac reunion, his thought that streaming services should “push the envelope” and have women be topless on dating shows, and how he’s in charge of his own edit. [The New Yorker, 2.19.23]
Saying no paid off for Guy Fieri, who refused Food Network’s offer of a show about kitchen gadgets after Food Network Star. Guy said on Jay Glazer’s podcast that he told Food Network’s then-president he wouldn’t do a show unless it felt authentic to him, and six months later they offered him Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. [ScreenRant, 2.19.23]
Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jen Shah is now in prison serving 6.5 years. Before surrendering, she wrote on Instagram, “It is the price I must pay for the bad decisions I made. People got hurt because of my decisions. While incarcerated, I will work to make amends and reconcile with the victims of my crime.” [Instagram, 2.17.23]
Joe Reid looks back at “two of the worst reality shows of all time”: Are You Hot? and ABC’s version of I’m a Celebrity… on their 20th anniversary. [Primetimer, 2.17.23]
“You live and you learn,” Survivor’s Karla Cruz responded to someone who pointed out she gave $1 million to Mike Gabler—after Gabler defended using indigenous people as sports mascots in a reply to her tweet about the Super Bowl. Gabler’s defense: Yankees and cowboys are white (they were not). Karla later noted that “some people who you think might be this or that turn out to be the opposite. Don’t let looks fool you.” [Twitter, 2.16.23]
Reelz renewed On Patrol: Live for 90 more episodes, which will air through January 2024. The network’s decision to reboot Live PD has paid off: the network said it had “audience gains of 270% in primetime” among people 25 to 54. [2.14.23]
Giada De Laurentiis is leaving Food Network after two decades for a deal with Amazon Studios, where she’ll produce and star in food reality TV. Her time at Food Network included hosting many of her own cooking shows, such as Giada at Home and Everyday Italian, and time judging (Food Network Star) and hosting (Winner Cake All) competitions. [2.10.23]
An interview with Vanderpump Rules stars Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz talk about their time on the show, and why “Middle-class show business is a good place to be,” as Schwartz says. [Los Angeles Times, 2.8.23]
Whose Line is it Anyway? star Colin Mochrie said that if the show returns, it’ll be with a different cast, because “we never received fair compensation for the success of the show. We provide the content but don’t get paid as ‘writers.’ We never received residuals for a show that’s been shown around the world since its inception.” [Vulture, 2.8.23]
Despite effectively abandoning Discovery+, Warner Bros. Discovery is reversing its plans to merge it with HBO Max, and now will let the two stand alone. Rick Ellis has a deep dive into why. I was looking forward to that new platform, Warner Bros Discovery Plus Discovery Plus HBO Max Plus. [Wall Street Journal, 2.8.23]
All of Bravo’s Love Without Borders matches failed—but at least one reality star still believes. It was produced by Kinetic Content, which usually has success in early seasons before things go totally sideways. [Showbiz CheatSheet, 2.2.23]
Holy shit: The Squid Game reality show is filming, and during Red Light/Green Light, the players were wearing blood packs that exploded if they moved, to look like they’d been shot. That’s according to players who talked to The Sun, who said players had to be carried out by medics; Netflix’s callous reply was that “contestants were prepared by production several weeks ago that they would be playing a game in cold conditions and participated knowing this.” [The Sun, 1.25.23]
reality blurred updates
An archive of other updates from reality blurred’s new home page updates section:
- I wasn’t able to watch the Tough As Nails finale live, but look forward to seeing it. Based on how close the individual competitions were last week, it’ll probably be thrilling! [2.22.23]
- OMG this Survivor podcast cover art. I can’t.
- I just saw that the first episode of Survivor 44 is titled “I Can’t Wait to See Jeff”. Sigh. At least we have The Traitors now. / Facebook • Twitter
- Peacock dropped both The Traitors: UK and The Traitors: Australia! Now: to find time to watch two full seasons I had not planned to watch right now. [2.15.23]
- I thought Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime performance was spectacular—and I was fascinated to read this Wired article about how and why the staging was mostly in the air.
- A new Netflix show has taken one of Survivor’s three elements as its name, Outlast, and its trailer suggests the players will hunt each other, set fire to the woods, and possibly even cut someone’s head off. [2.9.23]
- I did not expect 1) Work of Art’s format to be 2) resurrected 3) by MTV (!!) and air 4) after Drag Race, in the timeslot Real Friends of WeHo is currently soiling. But that’s what’s happening with The Exhibit: Finding The Next Great Artist, now on the schedule. [Mastodon • Twitter]
- The fun and super-gay podcast Sticky Bun Boys is now recapping The Traitors US, and their first guest was a winner of the UK’s Traitors.