Siesta Key star fired, Top Chef ends a great season, Killer Camp is coming, and more

Also, the Survivor episode that triggered a lawsuit

Dear newsletter friends,

Today is a Juneteenth, a day that I was never taught about in school, like so many things about race and racism in America. (Here’s Late Night writer Amber Ruffin answering questions about it for those of us who aren’t familiar.)

Recently, a number of networks have made previous series and documentaries available again, or taken them out from behind paywalls.

I’ve gathered together 10 free documentaries and reality series about racism in America. That list includes one of my favorite reality shows of 2018, America to Me.

Meanwhile, networks continue to hold their stars accountable for their racism.

This week, MTV fired the star of Siesta Key for racist social media posts, and the show edited him out of the mid-season premiere.

MTV also says it fired Teen Mom OG’s Taylor Selfridge over 2012 tweets, but she says she quit.

Top Chef and Survivor

Top Chef All Stars LA ended last night, and before the finale, I wrote about what an outstanding season this was—even though some of the prizes and product placement felt out of date, since they were from before the pandemic.

And the finale was really terrific, and surprisingly emotional.

While it’ll be a while before we get a new season, Padma’s new Hulu series premieres today.

This summer, I’m recapping Survivor: Borneo every week, 20 years after the original episode aired. I paused that but caught back up:

Bonus: In the episode 3 recap are links to Dirk’s deposition from Stacey’s lawsuit, which is a long but fascinating read.

New episode next Wednesday. Here’s how to watch if you want to join me!

Summer reality TV

So You Think You Can Dance won’t happen this summer, alas, but hopefully will be back in 2021.

The CW is taking a novel approach to filling it scheduled: importing four reality shows.

One of those I am super excited about: Killer Camp, a murder-mystery reality show like ABC’s Whodunnit.

The CW will also air a season of the UK’s Taskmaster, and two other series.

Things to read

Here are some stories from around the web:

  1. EW’s Dalton Ross did a ludicrously deep dive into a tiny piece of Survivor history: a band formed at Ponderosa by Coach and other Heroes vs. Villains cast members. The most fascinating part for me was the literal mutiny that occurred at Tribal Council, when production agreed to let the jurors wear homemade band t-shirts, and then changed their mind, sending Coach into the jungle screaming “fuck this shit.” (EW)

  2. While I was interviewed for this story about reality TV shows in Maine, I recommend it not for my brief appearance, but for its look at what is drawing reality shows to Maine. It’s not quite the new Alaska, but perhaps heading in that direction. (Portland Press Herald)

  3. A look at how the pandemic is affecting the people who make our favorite TV shows—not the celebrities and stars, but the assistants who “perform many of the basic and most essential tasks of the TV industry,” as Mo Ryan reports. (Vanity Fair)

That’s everything I’ve written and collected for you this week. Have a great weekend, and mask up when you go out! 😷


🌄 This is Reality in Focus issue 199, first sent 19 June 2020, and it was rooting for Melissa to win Top Chef.

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📷 Photo of the Munnar Tea Garden in Kerala, India, by gaurav kumar