Kudo contenders from A to almost Z

Kudo contenders from A to almost Z.

“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
After seven consecutive reality-competition trophies, this adrenaline-pumping warhorse finally experienced defeat last year when it lost to Bravo’s “Top Chef.” The around-the-world parade, normally a ratings champ, also wrapped its 18th edition in May with record-low numbers. That said, skein’s virtues are still stellar, making series a strong contender.

“America’s Got Talent” (NBC)
Talent showcase was one of last summer’s primetime standouts, averaging 11.8 million viewers. Sixteen million tuned into September’s season-five “Talent” finale. Maybe it was replacing David Hasselhoff with Howie Mandel as one of the judges, or could it have been feisty Piers Morgan’s new gig with CNN? Maybe, but maybe it was actually the talent.

“American Idol” (Fox)
After 10 years, Fox’s talent-discovering behemoth could finally win the reality competish trophy. High praise for new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, plus a stronger and showier talent pool and fewer gimmicky theme nights, have made this ratings anchor a strong contender

“America’s Next Top Model” (CW)
It’s always fun to watch these so-called models — who sometimes suffer from self-described panic attacks and emotional breakdowns — endure Tyra and the runway. While ATAS has yet to acknowledge “Model,” the CW, which recently renewed the series, knows it’s a guilty pleasure.

“The Bachelor”/”The Bachelorette” (ABC)
This reality franchise continues to woo audiences. “Bachelor” Brad Womack and “Bachelorette” Ali Fedotowsky once again captured the eyes and hearts of millions of viewers, which carried ABC to sizable ratings victories throughout the year.

“The Biggest Loser” (NBC)
This uplifting weight-loss phenom didn’t disappoint when it came to drama this season. Trainer Jillian Michaels said goodbye, Anna Kournikova was introduced and Rulon Gardner was the first contestant to walk away from the show by choice.

“Celebrity Apprentice” (NBC)
Although skein’s numbers faded a bit last season, The Donald is clearly determined to keep himself and his show in the spotlight. The Gotham power broker endured two very public roasts — the first in his honor at Comedy Central, the second at his expense at the White House Correspondents Dinner. And explosions between “celebrities” like Meatloaf and Gary Busey are the crux of this show.

“Dancing With the Stars” (ABC)
Watching “Dirty Dancing” diva Jennifer Grey beat Bristol Palin was riveting, but this pop culture phenomenon has more going for it than rivalries. Dramatic behind-the-scenes rehearsals (the Hines Ward/Kym Johnson tumble), contestant interviews, audience voting and snarky judges make this reality show a force to be reckoned with.

“Design Star” (HGTV)
This not-so-hidden treasure presents the perfect mix of practical and fantastical. Though its Emmy scorecard has remained clean, the design-on-a-budget series is not only HGTV’s top-rated competish skein, it spawns fellow quality programming like “Star”-winner Emily Henderson’s “Secrets From a Stylist.”

“Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox)
The opposite of the sophisticated and tasteful environs of “Top Chef,” “Hell’s Kitchen” comes with a lot of screaming chefs and Gordon Ramsay’s trademark verbal abuse. While skein hasn’t garnered a competish program trophy like “Chef,” it has received four nods in the art direction/multi-camera series category.

“Minute to Win It” (NBC)
The family-friendly gameshow has yet to be recognized by Emmy voters, but “Minute” took home the C21/Frapa Award for best studio-based gameshow format at 2010’s Mipcom.

“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
Yes, Gretchen actually did beat Mondo, but that doesn’t mean that this fashion-design competition doesn’t deserve the recognition it regularly receives from the TV Acad. So far, the classy series has been nominated for best reality competish six times.

Shedding for the Wedding” (CW)
Struggling with weight and stressing about weddings are two reliable reality templates. Weight-loss shows resonated with viewers (the April finale of “Shedding” drew 1.4 million viewers overall) but whether or not “Shedding” will appeal to Emmy voters remains to be seen.

“The Sing Off” (NBC)
Hosted by Nick Lachey and featuring Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman and Nicole Scherzinger as judges, this harmless choir competition has performed well with viewers. Maybe it’s just too nice for voters?

“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)
Fancy-footed Fox skein has sashayed away with a choreography and costume trophies, but show has yet to be recognized for its talent competition. But watching contestants struggle to perfect various dance routines in multiple genres in a matter of hours has been enough to keep viewers glued to the screen.

“Survivor” (CBS)
Even in its 21st and 22nd cycles, skein can outrun the competish no matter where it goes. Eleven years after the show’s May 2000 launch, net has kept this reality torch burning despite a recent timeslot switch.

“Top Chef” (Bravo)
Last year, the chefs made waves when they beat seven-in-a-row Emmy competish winner “The Amazing Race.” Voters won’t be disappointed by “Top Chef” season eight, which saw alums from past years waging highly addictive kitchen war once again. Thanks in part to the Emmy triumph, Bravo has made chefs (pastry and masters) as easy to access as non-fake housewives.

“The Voice” (NBC)
A surprise success for the Peacock, the top-rated new musical competition show from reality royalty Mark Burnett and John de Mol was the season’s hottest newcomer. Series launch was best for a new show on any major network since February 2010.

“Wipeout” (ABC)
In January a snowy version of the popular summer reality hit premiered and wiped out the competition, averaging 11.6 million viewers overall. Strong viewership proves that watching contestants being ejected from the program in inventive ways (like being shot out of cannons) never gets old.

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: REALITY COMPETITION
Stars embrace reality competition shows | Competition series wrestle with change | Treated like equals on reality TV | Social media draws live auds to reality shows | Why we watch | Playing the reality-competition field

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