Man, there has been some quality reality out there lately. Now, I know, I know, reality TV is not a bastion for high caliber writing/narrative. I get that. Heck, I embrace that! But, that being said, there has been a lot of reality wonder out there this season. My two current favorites are Shark Tank and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Can I just say I LOVE both these shows? Shark Tank makes me both cringe for some of the delusional souls out there with hair-brained business ideas AND cheer for the folks who really do have something brilliant and get the help they need to go forward bigger and better. And don't even get me started on the interplay between the sharks themselves! The occasional appearances this season of Mark Cuban and Jeff Foxworthy have added a whole new layer to their exchanges. (Mark Cuban is kind of a scary shark, yall. He is absolutely ruthless, shocking even the other sharks, and seems to like playing with the other sharks' minds more than the business deals. It's clear some of them hate him, by the way.)
Then there is Jamie Oliver taking on the LA county school district...or at least trying to mightily! Again, if you have a school-aged kid, you should be watching this program and taking notes and thinking about your own kids' lunches. If you have preschoolers like me, you should be watching and being afraid and thinking about what the heck you are going to do when they get to school!
Then there's the reality that has me on the fence. I can't quite decide how I feel about The Voice, the latest American Idol wannabe hosted by Carson Daly. The premise is gimmicky: celebrity judge/coaches pick a team of 8 singers blindly, based on voice only, then coach their teams through various rounds until someone wins. While the "blind auditions" sound exciting, it turns out the pool has already been narrowed down to some really good singers, and there isn't much excitement in the "competition" between the judges and the episodes are way too long and need some judicious editing. BUT, and this is a big but, the talent so far really is good and the judge-coaches are kind of fascinating, except for Christina Aguilera, who is not at all fascinating. The others are man of the pop culture moment Cee-Lo, country music male vocalist of the year Blake Shelton, and (my favorite) snarky-smart Maroon Five front man Adam Levine.
And then there's the ugly. Ya'll know I like me some Celebrity Apprentice, but the craziness of this season is actually getting a little wearing. Gary Busey is clearly CRAZY (as in traumatic brain injury crazy, sadly), but Trump was fixated with him for far too long and kept him around past his prime. Meat Loaf, though I love him, came off as a bit too crazy himself during his epic angry meltdown (at Busey, surprise surprise). Mark McGrath left much too early. And the women! No one could stand up to all talk and no action Star Jones. Sooo tedious. And the women just kept losing, with a few notable exceptions (Marlee Matlin love once again!). It's all to tiresome. And don't even get me started on Trump's extracurricular birther insanity and possible run for presidency and related shenanigans! Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the decline of Western civilization right before our very eyes.
I think it's about time we all admitted that the Redemption Island twist on Survivor did not work. It seemed like a good idea until one poor guy got sent there in the beginning and never left, even after returning back to the game and being sent back a second time. Even so, I like the predictability of Survivor. Every episode is the same: editing to show intrigue, challenge, fall-out, tribal council. Done. You can watch this show while doing just about any three other things, which I appreciate. And I actually think that this time, for the first time in a long while, the person who deserved to win, who really did outlast, outplay, and outwit everyone else, did, in fact, win. Go Boston Rob!