essays and reviews

My essays and reviews combine cultural criticism and TV criticism, and usually focus on the reality of reality TV, and how it affects our real lives.

Below are some of my favorite pieces of criticism and argument.

You can also read all my reviews for reality blurred, or browse by publication to see everything else I’ve written.

The Real World

The Real World Revival Is a Far Cry From the Original. Vulture, June 13, 2019. 

“Neither The Real World nor Facebook was the first in its class, but they were the destroyers of worlds, and now they are becoming one as Facebook, infinitely hungry for our attention, is rebooting The Real World, a show everyone stopped paying attention to. Can Facebook save the seminal reality show, and bring back my childhood? Spoiler alert: no.”

Queer Eye Netflix review

Why Queer Eye is this year’s best reality TV, and Trading Spaces feels like a rerunreality blurred, June 18, 2018.

Two shows from the 2000s have returned, but only one was ready to help us improve our lives.

Forget 100 days — we’ve been watching this Trump for years. The Washington Post, April 25, 2017.

I was asked to compare Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office as president of the United States to his time on NBC’s The Apprentice, and found that his methods have not changed at all.

Do Reality Competitions Need Big-Name Hosts? Vulture, Sept. 14, 2018.

Can Project Runway survive without Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum? Or are some reality TV formats stronger than the people who host them?

Netflix The Keepers review, S-Town podcast Shittown podcast review

The Keepers and S-Town are not about murders. They’re about survivors. reality blurred, July 5, 2017.

A hit podcast and a Netflix true-crime series were both framed as murder mysteries. But they ended up far more than that.

The Faking of House Hunters and the Realness of Reality TVThe Daily Beast, June 21, 2012.

This piece starts with revelations about House Hunters being staged, and ends with this declaration: “it’s time we stop with the reactive, overly simplistic arguments people made in 1992, and start having real conversations about how our reality entertainment is constructed and what that means.”

Sesame Street Burt and Ernie

Lessons Of ‘Sesame Street’: Letters, Numbers And TV. NPR’s All Things Considered, Nov. 10, 2009.

On the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, I wrote and recorded this commentary about the influence the show had on my life.

Making a Murderer shocks with its portrayal of ‘human failingreality blurred, Jan. 5, 2016.

As I wrote in my review, “Making a Murderer is like a shredder in reverse, taking fragments of information spanning decades and weaving it into whole, coherent pieces. The collective result is highly compelling horror, and this is the great achievement of the series and its directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos.”