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Reality TV Roundup


If you are a fan of reality TV - it's OK, you can admit it, a lot of people are - chances are, you've heard about some big news, specifically from the show "The Bachelor." Light spoiler ahead for any "Bachelor" fans who somehow missed the last episode and haven't heard about this - Colton jumped the fence.

OK, Let me back up a bit. All season long, ABC has been teasing a scene in which the latest bachelor, Colton Underwood, storms off in anger and a cloud of expletives. He ignores the producers' attempts to talk with him and then hops right over a tall wooden fence to escape the camera. Is he quitting the show? Will he come back and find his one true love?

It's the kind of drama that reality fans live for and the kind of drama that even managed to catch our attention in the midst of news about, oh, the president's campaign chairman going to prison for fraud and tax evasion, among other things. And that's all the excuse we need to call in NPR pop culture critic Linda Holmes to give us a roundup of what's been going on in reality TV lately.

Good to see you again, Linda.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So let's start with the fence-jumping bachelor.


MARTIN: This show has been on for a long time, and it's still around for a reason. People must like it. But it rarely has these sort of, you know, breakout Monday morning quarterback moments that people talk about with TV shows. So what do you think? Did they just get lucky? Is it getting a second wind? What's your take on it?

HOLMES: That's a good question. I mean, if you think about it, there have been a lot of reality shows where people have tried to get away from producers. But there's something about actually jumping over a fence or something about a physical escape that's almost slapstick-y in a way that they probably don't usually get. So I think they got lucky in that regard. But it's also true that they are very dependent on things like that now because their normal shtick of what the show is everybody has seen. I have seen it. Everybody else who's watched the show has seen it, and now you're just kind of waiting to see which of those things will play out each season.

MARTIN: And so there - are there other shows with surprising staying power?

HOLMES: Yeah. What you're seeing now is there are certain ones that I would think of as classics - legacy shows, sort of. "Survivor" is one - been around forever. Probably "Drag Race" now is getting to that point. Any show that has lasted long enough to have an all-star season - "Project Runway," things like that. Because "Project Runway" has changed networks and now changed networks again, it's going to have new hosts, but it has been around for umpteen seasons. Yeah.

MARTIN: And what about the fact that streaming services are getting in on the reality show experience?


MARTIN: I mean, people watch it together, right, as a kind of - you know, either maybe they hate watch it together or they...

MARTIN: Right.

MARTIN: ...Tweet each other. So what is the point of the reality shows going onto streaming services when the whole point of that is you watch it whenever you want?

MARTIN: Yeah. I mean, I think it's a good point. But I think Netflix in particular, if there's anywhere that traditional television has been making money, Netflix wants to come in there and take that share. So that's why they're taking kind of the holiday TV movies. They're taking the baking shows, the home improvement shows, and with this, more of the dating shows. "Dating Around" is one that follows a single person on five blind dates. It's actually kind of interesting. It's not as overproduced as some of these shows. There have been some dates that are really painful to watch and some that are kind of fun to watch where you do see a little bit of a spark.

HOLMES: So Linda, do you have any scoop? What did happen to Colton?

MARTIN: The only thing I know is that he got dumped by one of the women, which, of course, is the reverse of what's supposed to happen. Sometimes one of the women says no, that's OK, I'm going to leave. That's what happened. He got upset and ran away from the host and over the fence. It's crazy.

MARTIN: (Laughter) That's NPR pop culture critic Linda Holmes.

Linda, we know it's time for you to leave our show, but will you accept this rose?

HOLMES: Of course. Of course.


THE POINTER SISTERS: (Singing) Jump for my love. Jump in, feel my touch. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Linda Holmes
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.