Summer may have a reputation for being the doldrums of television, but in my opinion there’s actually some really solid reality TV to be found. You heard me right, I just endorsed the viewing of reality TV. And I’m not even going to qualify it with the word ‘guilty’ because I have no qualms about admitting my love for the following reality competition programs:
I’ve written about Face Off before, but it’s still an awesome show so I see no reason to not include it on this list. It’s also one of those rare reality shows where competition fosters teamwork and camaraderie, which is a nice change a pace from so many other shows that thrive on unnecessary drama.
You may wonder how a show about special effects makeup, prosthetics, and prop / costume fabrication can still be fresh 7 seasons later, but if you need any proof just watch the recent episode “Judge Match” (7×7). Every season is full of talented people, but getting to see the judges of Face Off, who are some of the top names in the industry, create makeups from scratch, and in just a couple of days, was impressive to say the least.
Best Way to Watch:
Just watch the show live, Tuesdays at 9pm on SyFy. Honestly there’s very little padding, I mean these people are busy! Plus, it’s fun to tweet along.
I first came across Sasuke (or Ninja Warrior) back in college on G4 and was immediately intrigued by the insane looking obstacles and incredible feats of athleticism. Plus, it was great background programming for when I needed to do homework seeing as how much of the commentary was in Japanese.
American Ninja Warrior may be a remake of the aforementioned program, but the course isn’t any easier and the commentary is much more useful when you can understand it. Having just concluded its sixth season stateside, the show has developed quite a cast of usual contenders viewers can root for year in and year out. Most seasons also mark the introduction of a new ninja that gets everyone talking. This year that person was Kacy Catanzaro, she’s my new hero.
Best way to watch:
Episodes are unnecessarily 2-hours long and full of pre-taped packages about the American Ninja Warrior hopefuls, so either DVR-episodes to skip the fluff or catch a marathon of it on the Esquire Network. You can probably accomplish a lot in between the runs.
So You Think You Can Dance also features some mighty talented people – dancers and choreographers alike. I sincerely hope FOX renews this long-time summer-staple for a 12th season because there certainly hasn’t been a decline in quality over the years.
With the introduction of ‘All-Stars’ in season seven, there’s been even more reasons to come back for more. I mean what’s better than discovering new dancers while getting to watch your favorites perform new routines too?
For the longest time the Ramalama Bang Bang dance from season two has been one of my favorite group routines, but the eleventh season’s finale featured a choreographed number by Sonya Tayeh & Chris Scott that rivals it in my book:
Best way to watch:
Watch live if you don’t want to be spoiled or enjoy live tweeting. Since it only airs once a week most episodes double down on the dance and spend very little time with much of anything else, but DVR-ing it works just fine too if you’d prefer to fast forward through the commercials, random musical performances, dances in genres that don’t appeal to you, or the judges’ critiques.
Clearly I have an affinity for reality competitions programs. I think it’s the best use of the genre to showcase incredible skills, but it’s also only a small subset of reality television. What other reality shows transcend the ‘guilty pleasure’ label?