2012 Emmy preview: Could ‘Shark Tank’ beat out ‘Top Chef,’ ‘Amazing Race’?

This race could be interesting.

Now that we’ve finally wrapped up the acting nominations with our 2012 Emmy Preview series, we are now going to move on to some other important fields — beginning with the one that draws the highest ratings out of anything left. Reality competitions have been a one-sided category for years now thanks to “The Amazing Race,” but the general feeling here is one suggesting that this could be the year that some new blood really manages to enter the race.

Be prepared for some surprising picks below, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comment box or the poll!

The deserving nominees

“Survivor” (CBS) – When you think of reality shows, “Survivor” is the grandfather sitting in the corner talking about days gone by. Did every twist this past year work? No, and you could argue that “One World” had a weaker cast when it comes to memorable characters (even if Kim Spradlin was a deserving winner). But there is just something fascinating about the show from a social perspective that it is hard to ignore — and it’s captivating still over a decade in.

“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox) -For the first time, Fox’s dance competition could be a serious threat to take the entire category. In a year when singing shows all but canceled each other out, the one-two punch of Melanie Moore and Sasha Mallory last year (which is what the Emmys will be looking at) made it one of the most dramatic seasons of the show ever.

“Big Brother” (CBS) – There is no way that an Emmy voter will ever send a possible nomination to a show that features people hanging on giant bananas as a challenge … but can’t we dream for a little while? “Big Brother” is entertainment gold through and through, and is the only one of these shows that becomes an unstoppable addiction for three months out of the year.

“Shark Tank” (ABC) -“Shark Tank” has a disadvantage in that there are new contestants every week, but it’s become one of the most-inspiring shows out there when it comes to seeing people make their dreams come true. It also helps that Kevin O’Leary is hilariously evil, and Robert Herjavec and Mark Cuban serve as perfect foils.

“MasterChef” (Fox) – At first, we thought it was “Top Chef” for amateurs. Then, something crazy happened last year — it became a better show than “Top Chef” (which struggled through a poor-designed Texas season) with a better cast, and a little less of a pretentious air around it. Not only is there some great cooking, but there is the human element of, once again, people trying to make their dreams a reality.

“The Glee Project” (Oxygen) – Combine inspirational stories with a talent competition and you have a show that is better than the original that spawned it. “The Glee Project” offers a window into the awfully-subjective world of casting — and not only are the contestants all interesting, but the prize is something tangible from a viewer’s perspective that people want to see.

The likely nominees

“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox) – As we said, it could very well be the favorite this year. Don’t Emmy voters have to get tired of picking the same thing eventually?

“The Amazing Race” (CBS) – It’s still a great show, but it is not the show that it once was thanks to stunt casting, silly equalizers, and dull challenges.

“Top Chef” (Bravo) – The Emmys will of course nominate the only show in this category to ever beat “The Amazing Race.”

“American Idol” (Fox) – It’s the show that started off all of these talent competitions — and despite lower ratings, it’ll still get some love as the most-watched reality show on TV.

“The Voice” (NBC) – Thank the Super Bowl ratings for giving this singing competition the PR necessary to snag this award — despite the show falling off a cliff after the blind auditions.

“Project Runway” (Lifetime) – Note that this is for the flagship series, and not the “All-Stars” version that dearly missed the snark and style of one Tim Gunn.

Photo: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

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