What makes a great Reality Competition show? There are so many different components to it — a great concept, solid casting, consisting story editing, and an ending that makes you feel like the story was justified. Even if the “heroes” aren’t the winners, you want to see the trajectory from point A to point B.
For our 2017 Emmy wishlist, we’ve singled out the six shows that do the best job at encapsulating some of what this genre has to offer. Take a look below, and be sure to also vote for some of your favorites!
The 2017 Emmy nominations will be formally announced on July 13. The results of all of our CarterMatt Emmy polls will be formally revealed on July 12 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific. They will officially close in the minutes leading up to that time.
Reality Competition Show – Our Nominees
The Amazing Race (CBS) – Yes, it is the predictable show that’s been nominated a billion times over. Yet, there’s something further to the logic here: This past season featured the complete-strangers twist, a questionable idea in theory that turned out to be very much entertaining. Great casting enabled some crazy clashes between type-A personalities; add to this the fact that we had a winning team that was at times completely bonkers, and this was a season worth watching all over again.
America’s Got Talent (NBC) – Bar none the best talent competition show on the air, largely because it both knows and accepts what it is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it allows itself to have a good time. It also has the right balance between the judges (who have great chemistry) and the acts, which are so varied that there is something for everyone. In between magicians, comedies, freakshow acts, and acrobats, there are so many parts of this show you don’t see anywhere else.
Hunted (CBS) – Sure, this was a reality show flawed in some ways given that the lack of rule clarity proved frustrating on several occasions. Beyond that was a refreshing, funny-at-times, and compelling show featuring contestants “on the run” from a crack team of investigators. There were few events more thrilling over the past year than seeing teams right on the brink of being captured. The capture of David and Emiley in particular may be a top five episode of reality TV this year.
Ink Master (Spike) – Like with Hunted, there are some elements of the show that occasionally do teeter off-course, including the rampant unneeded twists. Where this show shines is casting a light on fantastic tattoo artists and allowing them the creative freedom to showcase great ideas. This is a show with a culture and a tone completely its own, and it knows how to highlight drama in a way that doesn’t feel aggressively forced. You get some strategy, some skill, and one of the best competition hosts in the business in Dave Navarro. It’s somewhat sad the show hasn’t had more love over the years.
Survivor (CBS) – When the show is about the game and about the people, it’s fantastic. There are few things more exhilarating than a brilliant blindside, or seeing someone like David Wright nearly win the game despite being practically afraid of his own shadow in the early going. The storytelling within this show is top-notch, and specifically Millennials vs. Gen X as a season was a breath of fresh air. Game Changers had a tremendous winner, but it also brought back returning players a little too early all things considered.
Top Chef (Bravo) – So many years in, and it’s every bit as compelling as it was when it premiered. It may also have a returning-player problem, but it in many ways perfected the fusion of creativity-meets-conflict that you see on Ink Master and other shows. This is what happens when you combine beautiful food with great hosting, smart editing, and a cast that feels tailor-made for reality television even though these people are often guarded and have a lot personally at stake.
Now, we leave it to you to vote!
Remember that to see some other Emmy categories posted throughout the month, be sure to visit the link here. (Photo: Emmys.)