The thing about reality TV is that more so than any other genre, it ebbs and flows. Last year, there was the explosion of “Duck Dynasty” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” as phenomenons. Both of these shows are on the downturn this year, as we also had the first full year without “Jersey Shore,” a weak season of “Big Brother” in America, and “Dancing with the Stars” moving to one night a week.
While there was no breakout show or competition this year, we had some of the best characters we’ve seen in a while on some established hits. We had female villains, controversial contestants, a returning “Survivor” who is dominating all aspects of the game, and one of the best “Bachelors” ever. These are some of the components for this year’s Best Reality Star category of our Best of 2013 series.
Bill Engvall, “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC) – Bill wouldn’t really consider himself a reality star, but the truth here is that he was known this year thanks to a reality show. He was never the best dancer, but he was so likable (and funny!) that it was hard to root against him, even if people with better dancing scores were eliminated before him. He was basically representative of the simple fact that above all else, we want to be entertained and have a contestant we can relate to.
Gary Levy, “Big Brother Canada” (Slice) – It wasn’t a good year for “Big Brother” in the United States, but Canada made up for it in part with a great cast. Gary is one of the biggest characters we’ve ever seen on any reality show, and he was so much fun to watch on TV. Despite being a huge target early on in the game, he managed to not only last for a long time, but then get voted back in by Canada. As a matter of fact, he was a single vote away from winning the whole game (and we’re not even going to re-hash what happened there).
Kandi Burruss, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” (Bravo) – This is one of those shows that is either very entertaining or very irritating, but Kandi’s story has put it more towards the latter … even if it was at times difficult to watch what she was going through. She has been front and center this season on the show thanks to everything happening with Momma Joyce and her relationship with Todd, and perhaps the best thing about it is how genuine and un-reality TV it feels like watching her deal with one of the most difficult situations we’ve seen on a reality show.
Katherine “Tatu Baby” Flores, “Ink Master” (Spike TV) – The only two-time contestant so far in the three seasons of the tattoo competition, and also probably one of the most polarizing. She was voted back onto season 3 by America, only for there to be controversy over whether or not she deserved to be in the finale (mostly due to her threatening to quit the show). Heck, there were threats of quitting from finalist if she found a way to make it into the top two. While you may or may not have seen this show, it’s hard to deny her place on the list.
Marie Mazzocchi (of Tim & Marie), “The Amazing Race 23” (CBS) – In reality competition shows, this has almost been the year of the female villain. You had a female killer in Cris on “Whodunnit?,” Amanda on “Big Brother 15,” and then probably the biggest female villain in “Amazing Race” history in Marie. The funny thing about her is that we ended up rooting for her throughout the season mostly because she was so honest, and the majority of the other people seemed so legitimately terrified of setting her off that they were forced to be sneaky. Also, her 60 -40 financial arrangement with Tim, as revealed last night, what somewhat hysterical.
Reza Farahan, “Shahs of Sunset” (Bravo) – This is the second straight year for Reza on this list, making him the only two-time nominee that we’ve had in the category so far. But the reason for it is because he’s so fascinating. The fact that he’s an openly gay Persian man on TV is interesting enough, but then you add to that his crazy life, his friends, his relationship with his boyfriend Adam and his amazing sense of humor and there’s no way that he could not be on this list again. Usually on these ensemble reality shows someone has an off year, but Reza hasn’t done us wrong yet.
Sean Lowe, “The Bachelor” (ABC) – Given how often we saw them, there is a temptation to nominate Sean’s abs instead. But what really endeared us to Sean more than the average “Bachelor” is that he actually came across more or less like a real guy; plus, his relationship with Catherine Giudici after the show is pretty adorable, and he may be one of the goofiest guys we’ve seen in the show’s history. Typically these bachelors don’t allow themselves to have any fun, but Sean did while also taking the romance part seriously.
Tyson Apostol, “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” (CBS) – Before this season of “Survivor” started, we didn’t think that there was any way that Tyson was ever going to win this game. Some of the reasons why? He’s too big of a threat, he’s too sarcastic, and he’s not going to do anything to endear himself to a jury. But Tyson is probably playing the most dominant game since Kim Spradlin, and has done so without having to go on some sort of immunity run. He even had the balls to draw rocks. If you add all of this to his love of magic and his cupcake belt buckle, what’s not to like? We’re near the end of the season, and right now he has to be the favorite to win it all.
Who is your pick for Best Reality Star? Share in the poll below, and be sure to click here to see the rest of our CarterMatt Best of 2013 categories.