Reality Bites: Chug

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Photo courtesy of National Geographic
"So, Austrians *weren't* Nazis?"
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Who doesn't like to drink? Recovering alcoholics, I guess. Also people who are allergic to it. Oh, and those of you who don't like the way it makes you feel, or the taste, or the fact you flunked out of college because you discovered tequila your freshman year and spent the next two years in a haze of keg stands and impromptu road trips to SeƱor Frogs.

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like *my* freshman year.

So fine, plenty of you don't like to drink, but plenty still do, and for those people (who also have ample disposable income), there's Chug, National Geographic's new travel drinking show. Because what could possibly go wrong when you get drunk overseas?


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Reality Bites: Eaten Alive

Fool me once, shame on you...

There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

I didn't actually watch Eaten Alive when it aired last weekend, though I understand quite a few people did. How do I know this? Because they were unbelievably whiny in their disappointment:

No way I would have done what he did, but why build the show up and him not even be eaten alive? I mean... He wasn't even close. #EatenAlive -- Ty Shute' (@TyShute33) December 8, 2014

Discovery letting me think Paul gets eaten by a snake and then not letting that happen is the reason I have trust issues. #EatenAlive
-- Zac Dalpe (@ZacDalpe22) December 8, 2014

And it went on like this, apparently, for two hours. Obviously the prospect of being able to react immediately to a man getting swallowed whole by a python was a big reason people tuned in live, but for the first time in years I was happy for my "experience" with reality shows. I knew better than to sit through the overwrought two hour(!) buildup, recording the show for future ... well, I don't want to call it "enjoyment." Call it an opportunity to exercise my fast forward finger.

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Reality Bites: Antiques Roadshow

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Photo courtesy of PBS.org
Just once I want someone to bring in their vintage collection of "Barely Legal Teens."
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

When thinking of reality shows, one generally doesn't consider PBS. That might not make a a lot of sense at first; after all, the network airs programs which certainly qualify.

Then again, none of those invoke the usual imagery associated with the genre. There's no screaming on American Masters, no Kardashians on This Old House, and the History Detectives actually investigate items of significance with more rigor than a Google search.

Also, nobody screams at each other. As far as I know, that is. I hear that Judy Woodruff can get a little salty.

Covering this genre as long as I have, I sometimes forget the existence of shows I actually enjoy. Years of plumbing the depths of America's obsession with drunken rednecks and wife swapping almost made me miss the fact I've been watching -- and enjoying -- one particular reality show for years now. No, not Cheaters, I'm talking about Antiques Roadshow.

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Reality Bites: Hungry Games

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Richard Blais: almost human.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

The first Mockingjay -- which is the penultimate entry in the Hunger Games movie franchise -- comes out this week. Normally I'd have reviewed it, but I was unable to make the screening. You can probably count on some stuff happening, sufficiently padded out to make a 390-page book stretch for two feature-length films.

Even though I honestly wasn't that upset that I didn't have to drag myself out to hang with an audience more suited to monster truck fandom than sitting quietly in a theater, I figured I'd try and make it up to you. So for this week's Reality Bites, I tried to find something similar in tone, if not overall archery content.

The result: Hungry Games, a show I hadn't heard about before I found it on my channel guide and am likely never to watch again. In that last respect, it's a lot like those Jennifer Lawrence movies.


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Reality Bites: Wealth On The Water

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Eh, close enough.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

We recently had our AT&T U-verse receivers replaced (we'd had the old ones since 2008, au revoir 15 hours of Doc McStuffins). Naturally, I had to create a new "favorites" list, which led to even more time-suckage, considering the number of new networks for my perusal.

One of these I noticed was called AWE. Foolishly assuming the name meant it only broadcast programs of the most kickass nature, I added it, then was just as quickly disabused of that assumption when I looked the station up. "AWE" apparently stands for "A Wealth [of] Entertainment." More amusingly, it once went by the name "Wealth TV." Imagine, a whole channel devoted to nothing but the hobbies and interests of the super-rich.

Haven't they waited long enough?


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Reality Bites: Naked and Afraid

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Reminds me of a Roxy Music album cover.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Forget Ebola, America is in the midst of a nudity epidemic.

Having already worked the black seam of wine-soaked, furniture-tossing housewives and twentysomething mooks on the make to exhaustion, reality TV programmers finally realized there was one taboo (in America, anyway) they had yet to fully exploit: nekkidness.

The first tentative steps into this pants-optional territory came with TLC's Buying Naked, the show for potential nudist homeowners. Then there was Dating Naked, VH1's answer to the age-old question, "How long can two people make small talk before looking at each other's junk?"

Never one to shirk from a cultural bar-lowering, the Discovery Channel has responded with Naked and Afraid, a survival show with the ultimate twist: uh, they're naked. But you probably already figured that out.


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Reality Bites: Living Alaska

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Alaska: where bears are considered an amenity
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Alaska, not space, is the final (okay, last) frontier. But don't take it from me, that's both the state's official motto as well as the corporate stance of Home and Garden Television (HGTV), which certainly has no vested interest in encouraging residential growth in one of the least developed viewing areas in the country. Oh my, no.

A show based on the idea of moving to Alaska sounds like it would offer some interesting and unique challenges (provided you do a little better prep work than Chris McCandless, that is). Alas, Living Alaska seizes little opportunity to showcase the Land of the Midnight Sun's singular charms, settling instead for the same tired yet lucrative formula that fuels 75 percent of HGTV's existing programming.


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Reality Bites: 4th And Loud

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Tasteful as always, fellows.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

I've been asked by unrelated people on at least three unconnected occasions when I was planning on covering 4th and Loud for the continuing exercise in converting what remains of my gray matter into the delicious gruel I call "Reality Bites." I've never been able to give a good answer.

It's kind of weird, because due to poor time-management skills inherited from just about every one of my ancestors, I often find myself on a Monday or Tuesday without anything recorded to write about, necessitating a frantic perusal of free On Demand titles in the hopes of finding something I can sit through without falling asleep. So I really can't blame anything but conscious avoidance. In spite of months of pre-premiere promotion and continuing advertisements on AMC, it never crossed my mind to write about that show where Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley bought an arena football team.

This is also why I went through a run of truTV selections for a while. Because nobody but meth addicts and tow truck fetishists watches truTV voluntarily.


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Reality Bites: The Jennie Garth Project

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Not really getting a Ripley from "Aliens" vibe, here.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Jennie Garth is an actor. She's best known for playing Kelly Taylor in the quintessential '90s TV show Beverly Hills, 90210, and again in 90210, the CW's not-at-all necrophiliac revival. She may be capable of greater range than this, but you wouldn't know if from The Jennie Garth Project, a new HGTV series about Garth's latest grasp for post-Kelly Taylor relevance by latching onto the recent TV remodeling craze.

Will she succeed with only her gumption and spunky personality? Will HGTV hit the "over" on referring to her as a "single mother of three?" Will Garth suffer a life-threatening injury after clumsily handling equipment best left to fully bonded professionals?

Whatever, I was always more of a Melrose Place guy anyway.


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Reality Bites: Toughest Place to Be a Taxi Driver

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No air conditioning? What could go wrong?
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

In my lengthy and casualty-ridden campaign to avoid Bravo programming, I decided to check out a channel not often known for frivolous time wastage, namely, Al Jazeera America.

And wouldn't you know it, the program I finally ended up with was actually re-aired from the BBC. Toughest Place to Be A Taxi Driver is part of that network's (surprise) "Toughest Place to be a..." series, in which seasoned British professionals are thrust into unfamiliar environments in an attempt to do their job, kind of like when Michael Phelps hosted Saturday Night Live.

Previous episodes sent coal miners to Mongolia and midwives to Liberia (presumably pre-Ebola outbreak). The Episode I Watched, on the other hand, sent one of London's vaunted cab drivers to Mumbai, India.


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