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Reality-TV Index

A recurring guide to which shows are on the rise and which are about to crash.

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Survivor
The Premise: Assorted fame-seeking bartenders and amateur survivalists slug it out for $1 million.





Should You Bother Watching? Surprisingly, yes. Creator Mark Burnett knows just when to goose the show, and when to be hands-off: This season, for example, when one tribe lost eight straight challenges, there was no mercy reshuffling to give the losers a boost. Cold. Deliciously cold.




Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
The Premise: The Fab Five continue their quest to rescue style-challenged heteros, one blatant product placement at a time.






Should You Bother Watching? Yes. Carson Kressley’s zingers often flop (he’s a master of the single entendre), but recent episodes have dispatched the Fab Five to Texas—adding needed spice to a familiar recipe of grooming tips, bitchy quips, and tearfully grateful, formerly monobrowed frat boys.




Showdog Moms & Dads
The Premise: Five sets of showdog owners dramatically fail to observe proper pet/owner boundaries.






Should You Bother Watching? Absolutely—it’s can’t-look-away TV at its best. A childless woman coaxes her German shepherd to produce “grandchildren.” An Australian shepherd licks cream cheese off a pinup girl’s rump. It’s the perfect reality marriage of hilarious and horrifying.




Supernanny
The Premise: When overwhelmed parents cry uncle, British nanny Jo Frost parachutes in, Mary Poppins–style.





Should You Bother Watching? For parental tutoring, maybe. Unlike Fox’s flashier Nanny 911, Supernanny lingers on the parents’ struggle to adopt the nanny’s tips. The results seem less phony than on 911, but Supernanny can leave you feeling like you’re babysitting someone else’s kids.



Starting Over
The Premise: Six women share a house and battle their “issues”; life coaches hover and prod.




Should You Bother Watching? Nope. The first season was full of addictive inter-housemate squabbling. But the show now leans heavily on absurd tasks doled out by the dubious life coaches: e.g., making a woman lie down in a mud puddle that represents the mire her life’s become. Yuck.




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