Although it might not seem like it from the last few months of posts, The Mastermind focuses nearly 50% of its attention to the world of Reality TV. 2017 was not the strongest of years for the genre, but there are still several shows that deserve recognition for producing entertaining products this year. Here are your 2017 nominees for Best Reality TV Season.
Amazing Race USA 29
After the blind date season two years ago didn’t go exactly as planned, many fans of The Amazing Race would not have expected a similar premise to work so smoothly for the show’s 29th installment. But season 29 proved to be the best Amazing Race season in years and gave the show a new lifeline. The CBS product was dwindling and in desperate need of new life, so much so that it didn’t feature on the network’s lineup for almost 2 whole years. But season 29 changed everything again and now there is an abundance of optimism going into season 30, which just finished filming.
But what was so fantastic about season 29? What allowed the show to just work on every single level. First, they cast 22 fantastic individuals who knew what they were in for and were aware of the show’s premise. The entire cast was on a level playing field, unlike season 26, when half of the duos were pre-existing couples and the other half blind dates. But the people that were cast on season 29 were just so entertaining and there were such a vast range of different, conflicting personalities that every single duo had something interesting to watch out for, which so rarely happens on The Amazing Race. With partners that don’t know each other, there’s not that same level of trust and security and that just creates more drama and more fun TV. What’s more is that the winners of the show, Brooke Camhi and Scott Flannery, will go down as legends of the show. Scott was one of the most well-rounded and strategic racers the show has ever seen, while Brooke one of the most hilariously entertaining.
Other standout duos included Team Fun (Becca and Floyd), the interesting mom and dad duo, Tara and Joey, challenge powerhouses Matt and Redmond and even Vanck & Ashton, who didn’t even like each other but were forced to work together when everyone else wanted them gone.
Every single episode was entertaining, the challenges were great, and the show just seemed to be rejuvenated after taking a much-needed hiatus; producing a fantastic program that nobody saw coming.
♥ Big Brother Canada 5
Big Brother Canada 5 can and will be remembered for so many different things and so many different characters. It would be easy to say it was the season of Ika Wong or the season of Ika and Demetres (pictured above), but what about Kevin? What about Karen? Neda? Bruno? Sindy? BBCAN5 had so much to offer and everything that happened from Neda’s eviction on was absolutely explosive. From that moment on Ika and Demetres took control of the game and made for one hell of an entertaining show, but there was still one person that they couldn’t knock out no matter what they tried, and that was Kevin Martin. Kevin won challenge after challenge, Mike Holloway‘ing his way to the end, taking his final two goat in Karen and sweeping all the jury votes for the first time in Big Brother since Dan Gheesling pulled the feat off nearly ten years ago in BBUSA 10. Everything about this season of the show was amazing and every single character was so fun to watch on the show. Even the producers got this one right as they introduced just the right amount of twists so that no one ever got screwed over. From Kevin rewriting his history in the triple eviction to Ika’s flamboyant outbursts to Neda’s stunning eviction, BBCAN5 had so much to offer and was one of the most entertaining reality shows in recent years. It was so good that fans of the show petitioned and fought Global TV for it to be renewed for a sixth season when all hope was seeming dim and grim.
Survivor Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
After the disappointment of the highly-anticipated Survivor Game Changers, many fans of the show reported needing a break from the Survivor realm. Australian Survivor helped to restore many of those fans, but Survivor 35: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers is proving to be effective in doing so as well. Although the theme is a bit nonsensical and irrelevant, the characters on the show are making for a good Survivor season. Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers isn’t going to be anyone’s favourite season of the show, but it is still a solid season with fun characters, interesting vote-outs and dynamic story-lines that shift week by week.
The one main knock against Survivor 35 at the moment is that the pre-merge was not as explosive as the post-merge. But everything from Desi’s vote on was absolutely insane and led to one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the show. The season also finally got it right in the quest to discover a way that advantages could be an effective part of the game. This season advantages were only for one vote, giving contestants only one night to use them and providing non-stop entertainment week by week as contestants scramble to figure out what to do each time. Secondly, even the pre-merge characters, such as Ali, Alan Ball and Patrick Bolton were really entertaining and the editors didn’t make it obvious whatsoever who was going home in the pre-merge. Finally, every character has had a really clear and succinct storyline that has been easy to follow. Ryan has been incredible to watch, regardless of the obviousness of his eventual win, while Joe Mena, Jessica, Cole, Devon, Ben, Chrissy, Lauren and Mike have all given the show plenty to work with. Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers is by no means the best season of Survivor ever made but it is certainly a good one and with a few killer final episodes, could turn into a great one.
Masterchef USA Season 8
After a slow-moving and predictable season 7, season 8 of MasterChef USA was anything but and was full of action-packed excitement. At the start of this illustrious season, who would have ever predicted that Dino Angelo Luciano would come out victorious? The Italian-American was highly entertaining and a massive character on the show but was never a front-runner until the final moment when he claimed the $250,000 prize. Dino winning the show was a shocker, but one that capped off a brilliant season in fantastic fashion.
Beyond Dino and his incredible final surge to the title, this season was full of memorable characters and talented chefs, worthy a place in the MasterChef kitchen. Finalists Jason Wang and Eboni Henry were two of the most talented home-cooks the show has seen and both made the show so much more entertaining week-in and week-out. Entertainment was also provided in high doses by the erratic Jeff, 19-year old Gabriel Lewis and Texas Rancher Newton. Meanwhile, 25-year old Caitlin Meade was also one of the more talented chefs the show has picked up in recent years and much drama was provided when she choked at the final four after being the clear front-runner the whole way through.
The season also just had a fun vibe and energy to it. Aron Sanchez proved to be a fantastic third judge in place of Graham Elliot and Christina Tosi has grown more into the role since joining three seasons back. In addition, Gordon Ramsey toned down the yelling and screaming even more and although we all love mean Gordon Ramsey, nice Gordon Ramsey has demonstrated that he is equally effective on the television screen as well, particularly in providing for family level entertainment. Overall, this was a fantastic eighth season of MasterChef USA and one that guarantees the show will continue for a whole lot longer.
Australian Survivor Season 4
Capping off our list of 2017 nominees for Reality TV Season of the Year is probably the most popular international adaptation in the history of Survivor, the new Australian Survivor which is just in its second season running since renewing for the year of 2016.
Although 2016 was by in large a massive success, 2017 was far superior and could not have worked out any better. First off, whoever was in charge of casting got this season absolutely spot on. Luke Toki is quite possibly one of the greatest Survivor characters of all time; while I could go on and on about practically every other character on the show. Beyond the hilarious and secretly very smart Luke Toki, other standout characters included winner/cookie-monster Jericho, ruthless puzzle-master A.K., sneaky school teacher Michelle, adventure guide Locky, and everyone’s favourite fake yoga instructor Henry Nicholson.
After probably over-complicating things in 2016, the producers introduced a perfect amount of twists, idols and game inventions into the 2017 version, every single one of which worked out well. The season was never predictable and every vote had several interesting things to look out for. Regarded as one of the best Survivor seasons in recent years, Australian Survivor 2017 just might take this award home.
So there it is! The nominees for Reality TV Season of the Year. Like what you read? Subscribe for more and make sure to be back here on December 5th to begin voting for all the awards! See you soon!
♥ = The Mastermind‘s choice for each award category.