Even though the biggest shows in the reality competition genre, such as “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars,” air during the prime months of the year, the normally slow television months of the summer are quickly filling up with plenty of similar programs.
After a number of successes, most notably “America’s Got Talent,” summer television has become the hot spot for competition shows which would otherwise be overshadowed during other times of the year.
Though reality television used to be dominated by shows focusing on extreme situations or emotional drama, such as “Survivor,” “Fear Factor” and “The Real World,” a popular new group of shows has emerged and broken the trend.
Shows in this group merge reality television and game shows, mixing competition with typical reality-style drama.
Some of these shows, like “America’s Got Talent” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” are talent competitions where average people attempt to become famous, much like Idol.
On the other hand, “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Top Chef,” “The Ultimate Fighter” and other similarly structured programs feature professionals seeking advancement in their careers.
The reality competition genre is becoming so profitable that networks are stumbling across the same ideas for shows.
On July 10, NBC premiered its new show, “The Singing Bee,” in which contestants try to prove their musical expertise by singing the missing lyrics to a song, often resulting in humorous slip-ups.
The next day, FOX premiered its own lyrics-based show, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!,” with only a few minor differences in structure.
Though common logic would determine that when two shows are too similar, one is destined to disappear, these types of show are so popular that they might both survive.
Look no further than “Top Chef” and “Hell’s Kitchen”; though the latter is a much more dramatic and emotional show, both feature professional chefs looking to jumpstart their careers. Yet, they’ve managed to successfully co-exist for three years.
Though networks are often criticized for being unoriginal and lacking in creative programming, the search for lucrative reality television programs has lead to such imaginative ideas as “American Inventor” and “On the Lot.”
Although summer might seem like a boring time for television, when the only two options seem to be re-runs or terrible experimental shows which only last one week, at least one type of show is thriving.