Summer is coming early for reality TV

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by netflix strange eye, ABC Holey moley and NBC America has talent (with new judge Sofia Vergara) are just a few of the shows that await us in the weeks to come.

Andy Dehnart knows reality TV. In 2000 he founded the seminal television site fuzzy reality, where he covers from the world of unscripted television. We are delighted to welcome him as a contributor to Primetimer.

Like lemonade and ice cream, reality TV is a summer staple, but it hasn’t always been that way. Twenty years ago television was a barren summer desert. While people were packing their cars for the holidays or going out to cool their skin in the sun, the networks generally filled their reruns of their sitcoms and dramas that aired in the previous season.

In late summer 1999, ABC launched Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, which aired nightly for two weeks and debuted as a cultural phenomenon in its own right.

In 2000, two days after Memorial Day, CBS launched Survivor. As 16 Americans were stranded on a small island in Borneo, playing a game to outsmart, outdo and survive each other, the odds jumped by millions week to week. The finale, when Sue Hawk gave her speech on snakes and rats, and the jury voted for Richard Hatch to win $ 1 million against Kelly Wigglesworth, was watched by 51.7 million people. In the decade that followed, no other show would have had so many viewers, except for the Friends final.

The television had changed. Survivor and Millionaire proved what MTV viewers The real world and The highway code already knew – that real people could be as compelling and entertaining as scripted characters. And Survivor proved that people were ready and willing to watch new TV shows in the summer. Soon, summer became the place where broadcast networks aired signature summer reality TV or launched new shows (Fox’s American Idol).

Today, 20 years later, summer television could still change. But it won’t be as devoid of fresh new TV shows as it used to be, or what you might expect given the circumstances in the world right now.

The highest rated summer reality show, America has talent, premieres next Tuesday on NBC with new judge Sofía Vergara. But half of the show’s season is usually spent in live performances, and the show couldn’t even complete production of its pre-recorded audition and the judges cut the episodes.

American Idol was in a similar position, and moving his live shows to home performances worked amazingly well. This model may not work well for America has talent and its bombastic production values, which often include special effects, not to mention group performances. A 20-year-old can sing in his living room; a 20-person choir can’t – or shouldn’t – come together to sing in someone’s living room with fireworks in the background.

NBC Dance world also premiered on May 26, and he wrapped up filming his entire season. This is an advantage for shows with top talent, which pre-record their seasons early, often to fit their star’s schedule.

Steph Curry’s ridiculously fun mini golf competition Holey Moley II: the sequel, who returns on May 21, shot his entire season over a few nights in early March. And ABC has their full list of light and sparkling celebrity-hosted game shows: Match Game, Hit Your Luck, Celebrity Family Feud, and Tell the truth.

There will still be notable absences.

Island of love, the UK hit that arrived on CBS last summer and doesn’t claim to be anything but summer adventures, was due to premiere this week. This will not be the case ; Fiji, where Survivor also movies, doesn’t even accept international travelers.

Also, The bachelorette has been postponed, although ABC is committed to filming it as soon as possible. It’s much less likely to air anytime soon Baccalaureate in paradise, while the Olympic theme Bachelor Summer Games won’t happen, especially with the actual Olympics pushed back to 2021. The senior version of The single person Will also have to wait for the world to get back to normal before connecting older people who are desperate to find Instagram followers.

ABC will fill some of that Bachelor franchise void with The bachelor: the best seasons of all time!, which begins June 8 and will basically recap seasons past.

Bachelorette fans can find some solace in Labor of love, a new dating show that premieres this Thursday on Fox and follows a woman looking to become a mother. She uses reality TV to audition men to see if they would be good fathers – or decide she should have a baby on her own.

Big Brother, which typically starts in late June and takes three hours a week on the CBS schedule, not to mention the 24/7 live streams that fuel internet conversations, is in limbo. Maybe CBS will find a way to safely lock a group of people in a tiny stage house for more than three months. Or maybe we can just take a break from the bigotry and bad behavior that inevitably springs from this house, of its actors and producers.

CBS has a new competition that filmed last year: As hard as nails, hosted by Amazing race host Phil Keoghan and premieres in July. CBS says it “celebrates everyday Americans who roll up their sleeves and don’t hesitate to work long hours and get their hands dirty to make their country work,” by challenging them “on construction sites. of the real world. “It might be the perfect show for this summer, or it might sound flattering.

fox Ultimate label – which looks more like American Gladiators than a tag game – has no mission statement, just a lot of action. Filming is also finished and the season begins Wednesday. Another new show is also coming: CBS’s Play!, which comes out on May 27, and is essentially Ellen’s play game but with celebrity teams led by Venus Williams and Rob Gronkowski.

Perhaps this is the kind of summer reality TV show that comes and goes, as many have done over the past 20 years. But the streaming and cable networks will also have a lot of new shows that have already been filmed, and new ones that are filmed remotely or by the actors themselves, like Married at First Sight: Couples Cam.

RuPaul All Stars Drag Race, which was going to move to Showtime, has been brought back to VH1 and begins June 5. Discovery Channel has a new season of Nude and Fear XL premiere Sunday, while National Geographic brings Gordon Ramsay back in June for more his heinous travels around the world with Gordon Ramsay: Unexplored.

Netflix had three very summery reality shows that it burned earlier this year: The circle, Love is blind, and Too hot to handle it. Last week, the network said its reality hit strange eye will return for its fifth season on June 5, but the biggest new show announced so far for the summer is a fresh take on the Great british pastry shop format, a flower arrangement competition called The battle of the big flowers, which is declining today.

And these are just a few of the shows that have been announced. The volume may decrease, especially as the end of summer approaches, but it has been an absolute downpour: over 125 reality shows created or started new seasons in March and April only.

So there is no shortage of things to watch this summer, just maybe the absence or adaptations of some familiar favorites. This is our new reality.

People are talking about reality TV in our forums. Join the conversation.

Andy Dehnart is a writer, television critic and teacher who reviews and reports on reality TV at fuzzy reality.


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