Tuesday, August 6, 2013

YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT:  Vulture's Margaret Lyons explains why skills-based competitions are the best subgenre of reality tv, which is as good a hook as any to alert you to the fact that HBO's Hard Knocks returns this evening, once more with the Cincinnati Bengals. As I once wrote, Hard Knocks is "a documentary about an aspect of real life that happens to function like reality tv, only the same competition would have happened even had no cameras been there." And while it has only rarely achieved Full Slapdick, it has never not been great.

[Favorite skills-based competitions not mentioned in that article: Wickedly Perfect, Tough Enough (whoops: mentioned), ESPN's Dream Job, The Contender, Project Greenlight, Rock Star, and the one in the title.]


  1. Marsha4:42 PM

    Lordy, did I love Dream Job. I miss that show a lot.

  2. Adlai4:46 PM

    Well, she does mention Tough Enough (which was awesome). I do miss Project Greenlight - that was some hilarious nonsense.

  3. Jordan4:52 PM

    There was nothing interesting about the Dolphins season. And it was riveting.

  4. andrewraff6:03 PM

    At this point it's practically prehistoric, but VH1's Bands on the Run was one of the better reality shows of not just its day, but the ensuing dozen years since.

  5. Adam B.6:07 PM


  6. Benner6:08 PM

    It was especially good if you pictured Joe Philbin as Richard Jenkins from Step-Brothers. Plus, Tannehill's wife achieved a level of sustained excellence not seen since the October Gonzalez / Mrs. Brodie Croyle season.

  7. Adam B.6:43 PM

    As opposed to FAME, which kept changing the rules as it went along and ended up picking a winner who lied about his name and age, and ended up not receiving most of the prizes he was promised. What a trainwreck that was.

  8. Jordan9:09 PM

    I don't know if it's a good or bad thing, but halfway through that sentence, I knew it would end with Brodie Croyle.

  9. What I really enjoy about these skills-based shows is when the winner (or even someone who just does really well) goes on to real-world success, largely due to the show. I guess it makes me feel good that the show actually helped, and maybe I helped by watching. So I'm thinking of Kelly Clarkson, all the Top Chef-ers who now own restaurants (I love Harold's Perilla in NYC), and "You're the One that I Want"s Laura Osnes, who just got her second Tony nomination for Cinderella. Even lots of former ANTMers go on to model professionally, even if none truly became America's next TOP model.

  10. Adam B.10:59 AM

    Versus Jay McCarroll, who was last seen trying to sell scarves in the lobby of my office building a month ago. He was not prepared to handle his success; damnit Kara Saun should have won that season.

    Have any of these shows done as good a job at building careers than Top Chef and American Idol? (Arguably: Nashville Star.)

  11. Maggie11:52 AM

    Over the last few weeks, I've really enjoyed BBA America's MasterChef: The Professionals. It seems alot like Top Chef in that it has contestants that are generally working in professional kitchens or similar as opposed to home cooks like MasterChef on FOX (which I also enjoy). There is a focus on the classical Michelin star-type cooking, which I find fascinating, and less on the sometimes gimick-y product placement challenges of Top Chef. Series 4 (which ran in the UK in 2011) just started up again this week.

  12. Maggie12:04 PM

    Christian Soriano may be the only Project Runway winner whose name I occasionally see in fashion magazines or fashion blogs in the context of highlighting his collections or highlighting celebrities wearing his clothes.
    I would agree re: Nashville Star with Miranda Lambert (who I think was 3rd place finisher) being a legitimate country star. (In checking that out, I also learned that Kacey Musgraves was a contestant, as was Whitney Duncan, who went on to be a Survivor South Pacific consestant). Also, Food Network Star has arguably worked for a least one winner. I'm definitely not a Guy Fieri fan, but he did certainly build a career out of his win.