How Real Housewives is produced, what Amazon bought (Survivor?! Shark Tank?!), why American Idols disappeared, and more

Dear newsletter friends,

I’m so very excited for the long weekend ahead, even though weekends have barely been distinguishable from regular days this past year.

But before I dive into that, let’s start our look at this week’s reality TV highlights with these three deep dives:

  1. Did Amazon just buy Survivor, Shark Tank, RHOC, and RHOBH? Wait until you read the 👀 anecdote about Mark Burnett, who runs MGM’s TV division.

  2. How produced are Real Housewives shows? I was honored to publish this excerpt from Brian Moylan’s The Housewives, which details how producers put together a season—and individual scenes.

  3. What’s up with all of American Idol season 19’s mysterious disappearances?

Also this week, I reviewed the new competition from Big Brother’s producers:

I’m working on my summer premiere guide, which I’ll publish Tuesday. Until then, here are the

News and views

  • The 2020-2021 TV ratings have The Masked Singer tied for the #1 non-sports show.

    • I know TV audiences have fragmented but it still shocked me to see that American Idol, The Amazing Race, and Hell's Kitchen all tied with 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way, 90 Day Fiance Happily Ever After, The Walking Dead, and several other scripted shows.

  • Kim Kardashian revealed—on her reality show, of course—that she had COVID-19. Buzzfeed News reported “Kim tested positive roughly 10 days after returning from the infamous trip” for her birthday to a private island; she said in a tweet that story is “false” and said she got COVID-19 from her five-year-old.

  • Shamira Ibrahim on how the RHOA Bolo Leak Was a Fourth-Wall-Poking Power Play”

  • The Jeopardy! guest hosts (so far) ranked by ratings


My item in last week’s newsletter on NatGeo’s collaboration with MISS said that its Sharkfest wouldn’t return until next year. That was incorrect; I misread the press release (which said Sharkfest would be “resurfacing for its 10th anniversary in summer 2022”) to mean that it wouldn’t also air this summer. While Sharkfest’s 2021 programs have not yet been announced, it will air this summer, too.

⭐️ I recommend

That’s everything from me for this week—and this month! I hope you have a terrific weekend and some rest and relaxation, and I’ll see you online in June, aka next week.


🌄 This is Reality in Focus issue 245, first sent May 28, 2021, and it did not even get invited to Kim’s island birthday party.

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📷 Photo of a birds flying over a San Diego beach by frank mckenna