×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why we watch: Personalities that keeps auds glued

Road to the Emmys 2012: Reality & Nonfiction

In a 500-series reality world where TV personalities can make all the difference between success and failure, networks are always in search of those that can draw a loyal audience:

The Duggars
Family values matter most to ’19 Kids and Counting’ clan
While Jon & Kate and their eight became tabloid fodder over marital problems, and the Octomom became more freak show than superparent, TLC’s big-family stars the Duggars — of “19 Kids and Counting” — seem to be giving reality auds a taste of how smiley and smooth-running a packed household can be. Merging elements of organization voyeurism, playfulness and values-preaching, the show has turned the devoutly religious Jim-Bob and Michelle into warm-hearted parenting models who miraculously avoid seeming like robotic day care center operators. The kids, meanwhile, are a rare reality-world portrait of youth that isn’t materialistic or drama-obsessed, but rather cheery and helpful.

Matt Paxton
Hoarders’ host helps clear the clutter conundrum
Sure, there’s a whole show built around dirty jobs, but taking in what junk-junking specialist Matt Paxton has to contend with on A&E’s “Hoarders” is enough to think that no salary is too big for that kind of work. Paxton, who has a Richmond, Va., business called Clutter Cleaners, is an author on the subject and one of the show’s hoarding specialists. He is also its most charismatic and sympathetic figure when guiding disturbed souls through the agonizing process of emptying out their monstrously trashed, wretchedly unsanitary residences. Whether acting as a project cheerleader, talking tough to behaviorally sensitive subjects or attacking houses riddled with waste in all forms, Paxton has become a quietly heroic figure in a reality niche that, in the case of the grimly watchable “Hoarders,” showcases the desperate and mentally ill side of extreme makeover candidates.

Giuliana & Bill Rancic
Couple not afraid to share trials, trauma in tumultuous year
Reality television of one form or another initially brought Bill Rancic and Giuliana DePandi separately into our homes: Bill as the first winner of “The Apprentice” and Giuliana as an E! correspondent. They became their own reality stars as a romantic duo, however, with Style network’s “Giuliana & Bill,” which for five seasons has chronicled their coupledom from engagement through the first years of their marriage. The pair’s specialty is a kind of camera-ready openness (steeped in their clearly strong bond) about a wide range of husband-wife issues, from day-to-day entanglements and work vs. home concerns, to life curveballs like their struggle to conceive and, this past year, Giuliana’s breast cancer diagnosis.

Adam Richman
Passion for pastrami resonates for food connoisseur
Food television is littered with in-your-face personalities, but Adam Richman is the genre’s stuff-your-face hero. His eating challenge-based Travel Channel show “Man v. Food,” which ended its run this past year (hopefully for his health alone!), proved to be an ideal merger of subject and fanatic. Richman’s style is aggressively pig-out-friendly but with a strong self-deprecating streak, foodie-friendly descriptive powers and plenty of humor. As a tour guide through America’s comfort-food meccas, Richman’s enthusiasm for all things salty, gooey and artery-clogging is infectious, even if the visual of him after a particularly gnarly throwdown — so many pancakes or fiery hot wings within an insanely short time frame — isn’t exactly what most food-based shows would consider appealing. Next up for Richman is “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America.”

Patti Stanger
Dating dilemmas bring out advice from ‘Matchmaker’ who thrives on taking charge
For viewers looking for the kind of hot-blooded personality with an accessible but confrontational style, Patti Stanger’s arrival with “The Millionaire Matchmaker” was for Bravo watchers a case of love at first sight. Though the show is ostensibly built around the New Jersey native’s dating service for wealthy, unattached men, Stanger’s unbridled passion for telling off clients who don’t follow her exacting standards for proper courting has made her a take-no-prisoners star. Although occasionally taken to task for being single herself — which, one could argue, paradoxically reaffirms the rigors of her dating rules — the brashly confident Stanger remains a popular figure in the advice-for-the-lovelorn world with an unpredictable verbal panache (don’t ask what “juicy goosey” means).

Road to the Emmys 2012: Reality & Nonfiction
And here’s the pitch. . . | Fundraising a huge obstacle for documakers | Hinterland heroes all the rage | ‘Frozen Planet’ proves cool for Discovery | Why we watch: Personalities that keeps auds glued | Reality: A genre bursting beyond the seams
>

More TV

  • Steve McQueen VSS

    Amazon to Launch Steve McQueen's Anthology Series ‘Small Axe’ in the U.S.

    Amazon has boarded “Small Axe,” the upcoming anthology series from “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen, and will launch the series in the U.S. It will bow on the BBC in the U.K. and BBC Studios is selling it internationally. Amazon’s European content chief Georgia Brown revealed its involvement in the series, Tuesday, at [...]

  • Paula Pell

    Quibi Orders Comedic Murder Mystery From Lorne Michaels, 'SNL' Alums

    Quibi keeps shelling out cash for content: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s richly funded startup has ordered a short-form murder-mystery comedy written by and starring former “Saturday Night Live” writers Paula Pell and John Lutz, and executive produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video alongside Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker. In “Mapleworth Murders,” Pell (pictured above) is Abigail Mapleworth, [...]

  • Sky

    Comcast Expected to Appoint Maximo Ibarra as New Sky Italia CEO

    Colombian-Italian executive Maximo Ibarra is expected to be appointed CEO of Comcast-owned pay-TV operation Sky Italia, which has been without a chief executive for the past seven months, a source close to Sky Italia tells Variety. An announcement is believed imminent that Ibarra will be the Italian paybox’s new chief after it was announced Tuesday [...]

  • Lil Nas X arrives at the

    Lil Nas X, Young Thug, Jamie XX Highlight Adult Swim Festival Lineup

    The second annual Adult Swim Festival is set to take place on Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16 at Los Angeles’ Banc Of California Stadium. Music acts on the bill include Lil Nas X (pictured), Jamie xx, Vince Staples, Young Thug, Dethklok, Captain Murphy and Tierra Whack, among many others. Additional offerings include comedy [...]

  • 'Live P.D.' Host Dan Abrams Brings

    'Live P.D.' Host Dan Abrams Brings New Order to Law-Focused Media

    Each weekday at 2 p.m., Dan Abrams talks to America for an hour about the law, politics and media. He’s been working steadily to expand the conversation. Abrams hosts an afternoon show on satellite-broadcaster SiriusXM, where he holds forth on the Mueller Report (if you haven’t read it, don’t try to debate him on what [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content