Reality Check #5

The Reality Check is a weekly column containing the musings of multiple writers on various reality TV shows. Are you hopelessly addicted to a reality show? We invite you to contribute your thoughts! The Reality Check runs every weekend on

So You Think You Can Dance


by Shana Lieberman (@evilapprentice)

I originally started watching this show with the very first episode, planning to have a good laugh at something that I could trash and then quit.  I was happy to be disappointed.   SYTYCD has done wonderful things for dancing since day 1, but  I’m sad to say that it’s starting to become a bit laughable in season 10.  The dancing is still good, although there’s something not quite meeting expectations for me so far this season.  The choreography isn’t quite as moving as it has been in previous seasons, but to each his own…No, the real problem is in the judging.  This past week, Carly Rae Jepsen was a judge.  Creator and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe retweeted messages defending the choice of Jepsen for guest judge by saying that she “brings in viewers.”  No, she does not.  Not the kind of viewers that a show that has done so many positive things for dance ought to want.  There are “popular” artists out there that can be brought on the show as judges that actually know about dance and can give good, constructive feedback.  Lady Gaga comes to mind.  She was a fabulous judge in season 8, and I’m not even a fan.  Even better yet, go back to bringing in choreographers that don’t have pieces being performed on the show that week.  They’ll “bring in viewers,” seeing as how your viewers already love them.  Please, please let the tv gods bring some integrity back to the judging choices on this show.  And oh!  Some actual use of Mia Michaels, rather than dangling her in front of our faces during the top 20 reveal and then not seeing her again, would also be great.

Real Housewives of New Jersey


by Caitlin Malone (@SpaceCaits)

Get ready for a family wide therapy session!

– The Joes continue their fight and it looks to me like it was Joe Gorga who charged at Joe Giudice first, but I dislike Joe Giudice so much that I’m willing to lie to myself, like Melissa is, that Giudice started the fight.

– Everyone tries to break up the fight except for Teresa, who just stands by and watches.

-Once the fight is over everyone notices they have this black stuff on them that looks like shoe polish. It turns out that the black stuff was Joe Gorga’s black hairspray that he uses to make it look like he has more hair than he does. I’m not being snarky, that is actually what happened.

– Everyone threatens to leave the castle, but of course no one does because that doesn’t make very good television, so they all go to bed without talking about things further, at the advice of the team builders. I forgot the team builders were even there.

– The next morning, when Teresa wakes up she calls Caroline and convinces her to head down to Castle Therapy to try and help fix things.

– Dr. V, from Bravo’s ‘LA Shrinks’, also comes down that day and gets right to work. She sits down with Teresa while everyone else is in the other room, except Joe Giudice, who is still in bed. Even when he is sleeping he bothers me.

– In the other room, where everyone is eating breakfast, it is clear that Melissa has given up completely and doesn’t think that anyone can help their families. Doesn’t this make Melissa as bad as Teresa? Teresa doesn’t want to take the blame for anything and Melissa just doesn’t want to do anything at all.

– While Teresa talks to Dr. V she is back to denying that she had anything to do with the ‘Melissa was a stripper’ rumor and Dr. V hits the nail on the head, “ It sounds like a lot of what you tell people is consistently misinterpreted . . .  at some point you have to say, ‘what the f*** is wrong with me?’”I’m not very familiar with the other show that Dr. V is on, but she is rocking it right now! I don’t know that she completely got through to Teresa, but I’m just glad someone is saying it.

– Joe Gorga speaks with Dr. V alone next. He says that Teresa is one of his worst enemies and that he doesn’t want to try and fix it anymore. So Dr. V brings Teresa in so he can tell her how he feels.

-Caroline arrives! If I were Caroline I would be like, “wait! you already have a therapist here and you needed me why?”

-Meanwhile Teresa and her brother continue their conversation and Teresa says that she doesn’t want him to hate her. She cries, then he cries and they hug and I guess Joe is staying!

Next week at the castle it looks like the families all sit down together to speak with Dr. V and it should be interesting to see Joe Giudice sit down in front of a therapist. Somebody needs to help that guy!

Big Brother


by Kyle Trembley (@KyleLovesTV)

This week, we saw the long-inevitable collapse of the household power structure, as the houseguests came together to unanimously vote out Kaitlin over Aaryn and Ginamrie, 9-to-0-to-0. For her part, Kaitlin didn’t acquit herself particularly well, aligning with loud and loathsome Jeremy from week one and never really bothering to cultivate any other relationships.

But Kaitlin was unquestionably the least offensive of the three “mean girls” on the chopping block this week. Always obnoxious, occasionally racist Ginamarie was never even considered a voting target, which makes sense. But the powers that be in the house (Helen, Amanda…Judd?) passing on the opportunity to eliminate rampantly racist, completely intolerable Aaryn is a bit of a shocker.

Contestants on the show have no contact with the outside world, so they’re not aware of the firestorm that Aaryn has caused. But even without social media fanning the flames of indignation, a good chunk of the household was pretty damn indignant at the thought of spending another week with Aaryn. You could see it in their faces as they cast their votes. One-by-one, contestants stepped up to talk to host Julie Chen and convey the most amount of disgust and self-loathing possible while they voted to keep Aaryn around. Even Howard and Candice, both of whom have been targets of Aaryn’s vitriol, chose to fall in line and deal with her another week (since Aaryn won the Head of Household challenge, it’ll be another two weeks, at least, before they can get rid of her).

This season broke early on “good” vs. “bad” lines, and with the exception of Nick (whose Moving Company alliance lasted one week before getting snuffed out), everyone voted out has been on the “bad” side. This wasn’t a war, it was a massacre. This week the remnants of the “bad” side were all up for elimination, and the fringe “good” members (Howard, Candice, Spencer) all got in line and dutifully voted off Kaitlin.

As a Big Brother newbie, I have no context to place this in. My only experience with reality show alliances is the early season of ‘Survivor’, but that show took structural steps to ensure competetiveness. Does every Big Brother season basically turn into one alliance dominating the game? Cracks are certainly starting to show – Elissa’s bizarre behavior this week could cause some problems – but it’s hard to argue that Helen & Co. haven’t dominated the game from the beginning.

Breaking Pointe


by Shana Lieberman (@evilapprentice)

Dear Allison,

When you run around talking about how dancing isn’t brain surgery and discuss leaving your career for some guy, you make yourself look like an idiot.  Not only is quitting work for a man a terrible example to set, but you’re also disrespecting yourself and all of your fellow dancers in the process.  On the most literal level, no, it’s not brain surgery.  However, as you should know, becoming a member of a ballet company certainly takes a lifetime of hard work.  Furthermore, it can be as important as breathing to the people that actually love it. Dancing can save lives in its own way, even if it’s not as tangibly as your precious brain surgery does.  Shame on you for not realizing that. If you really want to marginalized ballet like this, you probably should go ahead and leave the company.  There are tons of people out there that actually care.  I’m sure they would love to take your job.  They might even spend less time whining about relationship drama on a reality series and more time dancing too.

No love,



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