The Best of Fall Television 2012: Reality Television

So we’ve already talked about the best television comedy fall 2012 has to offer and the best television drama fall 2012 has to offer. It’s now time to talk about the genre everyone loves to hate – reality television. Reality television gets a raw deal – mostly because a lot of people really do seem to take television too seriously. Now, obviously, I love television. I love television a whole heap but I try not to let myself take it too seriously. Television is a distraction from the drudgery of every day life and sometimes, there is no better distraction than a good reality show. Instead of ten new shows and ten returning shows to represent the best of reality television for fall 2012, I’ve grouped them altogether. Make sure you come back in a few weeks for my recap of the fall 2012 television premieres for a discussion of what shows worked and what ones didn’t.

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10: Jersey Shore

Airs: Thursdays at 10pm on MTV
Premiere Date: October 4, 2012
If you have been following my work here for any amount of time, you may have come across a little article I wrote about giving up on Jersey Shore. I’d long been tired of all the fighting but it was the turn toward violence (even if it was self inflicted, Mike) that really made me tune out. The fun guilty pleasure I’d been caught up in was no longer fun. It was sad and it was a little scary. This was a group of people that no longer should’ve been staying in the same house. I swore off The Shore and vowed never to return but I have to break that vow. Mike’s sober now. Snooki’s pregnant (and has now had the baby). I’m interested to see what both of those factors have done to the dynamic of the show. In addition, it’s the last season. I’m interested to see how they handle that. Will I stay tuned through the entire season? Honestly, probably not but we’ll see how things go once the final season of Jersey Shore begins.

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09: Breaking Amish

Airs: Sundays at 10pm on TLC
Premiere Date: Already airing
I not usually one for reality shows like this one but I like the premise here. The Amish have long fascinated me and to be honest, I find it hard to believe someone could want to leave that life. It seems like a lot of hard work, sure, but it also seems much simpler than the life most of us live. This series follow two Amish men and three Amish women as they leave their communities and head to New York City. Although I’m sure TLC will sensationalize the heck out of these poor people, it really will be interesting to see how they deal with the culture shock they’re in for.

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08: Shark Tank

Airs: Fridays at 8pm on ABC
Premiere Date: Already airing
I’m not always in love with Shark Tank but I do find it interesting enough to tune into every now and again. While the fall television season is filled with reality competition shows, Shark Tank is a horse of a different color and I find that refreshing. I like seeing small business owners pitching their ideas to potential investors because it reminds me that there are still people out there inventing new and interesting things. This one is worth watching if only for that. I’d probably like it even more if it didn’t air opposite Kitchen Nightmares.

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07: Primetime: What Would You Do?

Airs: Fridays at 9pm on ABC
Premiere Date: Already airing
I’m honestly a little surprised by how much I like this one. John Quiñones isn’t my favorite media personality but I think he does a great job with this one. If you haven’t checked it out yet (it’s just entered its second season), the basic idea is that average people are put into unusual, often tough, situations where hidden cameras record how they react in said situation. Sometimes the situations involve an injustice or morally questionable element and something even illegal activity. It’s definitely an interesting show although it can be a little hit or miss at times.

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06: The Voice

Airs: Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm (could change, probably will) on NBC
Premiere Date: Already airing
Here’s my problem with The Voice. After the blind auditions, I lose all interest in the show. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s just me. I love the coaches and the talent is usually pretty top notch but there’s just something about the show that looses me. Perhaps we don’t get to connect with the contestants enough. On shows like American Idol, you can really pick a favorite and by the time the end rolls around, you feel like you really know who the contestant is. The Voice doesn’t allow enough time for that connection to build. That could be why The Voice contestants seem to be abandoned so quickly after the finale. I didn’t even tune in to see the winner crowned last year. I just really didn’t care who won. This isn’t a problem that is unique to The Voice though which brings us to …

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05: The X Factor US

Airs: Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox
Premiere Date: Already airing
At first glance it may seem like I prefer The X Factor over The Voice. It probably appears that way because I do, in fact, prefer The X Factor over The Voice and that’s really for one simple reason. The X Factor has Simon Cowell and I think all reality shows of this ilk need to have a Simon. The coaches on The Voice are great but they’re way too nice. Even with that said, I do prefer American Idol over both The Voice and The X Factor for reasons I’m about to talk about because number four on our list is …

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04: American Idol

Airs: ? on Starz
Premiere Date: Already airing
American Idol is my favorite reality singing competition because it really does focus on the contestants. I would have easily put this at number one or two on my list if I weren’t so concerned that was about to change. By adding Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, I fear the show will be more about the judges than the contestants and that bothers me. It’s still, however, much better than having the coaches/judges competing against each other for bragging rights. That is my biggest problem with both The X Factor and The Voice. If those shows focused more on contestants and less on pitting celebrity against celebrity, they would be infinitely better. With all of that said, I am interested to see how things go with Mariah and Nicki. I had similar concerned about Jennifer Lopez but by the time her run on the show was done, I thought she was a fantastic judge and decided I would miss her terribly. The smart move this season? Bringing in Keith Urban. First of all, he’s incredibly talented. Second of all, he’s a real country guy. The show really needs that. I think that’s one area in which The Voice really gets it right. They have a coach there representing all different genres and considering there is usually at least one or two strong country contestants on Idol each season, I think Urban’s guidance will be very beneficial.

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03: Dancing with the Stars: All Stars

Airs: Mondays at 8pm on ABC
Premiere Date: September 24, 2012
Confession time: I didn’t bother watching until the end of last season. I love the pros, I love the judges and I liked the contestants but no one really jumped out at me. I wasn’t excited to see anyone hit the dance floor and that make the whole thing a little lackluster for me. This season will be different. This was absolutely brilliant casting. Some of my favorites from past seasons are back. Granted, Bristol Palin is back and that upsets me but overall, I’m looking forward to seeing what some of my favorites will do in their second turn on the ballroom floor.

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02: Kitchen Nightmares

Airs: Fridays at 8pm on Fox
Premiere Date: September 28, 2012
Can someone just give Gordon Ramsay his own damn network already? I would watch it. I would watch the heck out of it. I love me some Ramsay and out of all of his pursuits, Kitchen Nightmares is probably my favorite. Sure he can be nasty to the restaurant owners but he’s always nasty with a purpose. Watching the show gives one the impression that he legitimately wants to help these people succeed. He has this way of cutting through the BS and getting to the heart of the matter. While I enjoyed Ramsay’s newest baby, Hotel Hell, my heart will always belong to Kitchen Nightmares.

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01: Real Time with Bill Maher

Airs: Fridays at 10 on HBO
Premiere Date: Already airing
Does Real Time count as a reality show? I don’t really know, but I’m counting it as a reality show because I don’t know where else to put it in this article series and it really deserves a place somewhere. I love everything about Real Time. Bill Maher and I don’t always agree on the issues – particularly where religion is concerned – but his biting wit always makes me laugh, even if it makes me angry at the same time. It’s an election year in the US so it’s never been a better time to tune in. Sure the show skews a little toward the left but don’t mistake it for an entirely liberal show. Maher isn’t afraid to call the liberals on their bad ideas.


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