PopWatch is on a quest to determine the Greatest Guilty Pleasure Reality TV Show of All Time. We have 32 seeded contestants in four categories (see full bracket here), and we’re now in the questionable “reality” of the “Real” Lives category. After you vote, please leave comments about why you love the show you chose.
Quarterfinals, “Real” Lives: The Hills vs. Dog The Bounty Hunter
What is truth? What is reality? What is The Hills? The set-up is simple: Two girls, blond and barely legal (and already reality TV vets from Laguna Beach), move to Los Angeles. They are being filmed. We know this, and they know this, but they pretend not to notice the cameras, or the boom mikes, or the crew members telling passing pedestrians to act natural. As the show progresses, the two girls pretend a whole lot of things: they pretend not to be famous, they pretend not to be rich, they pretend to not be the stars of an iconic, loved, loathed television show called The Hills. The first five seasons (before Lauren Conrad’s departure) form the Ur-Text for our confusing era of hyperreal fake reality. Is the show fiction? And if so, is it boring (almost every plot is a variation on “Does he love me?” teen angst) or is it artful (with its the glacial, anti-narrative pacing and near-abstract dialogue)? Is Audrina playing a fake “Audrina,” or has she been playing “Audrina” for so long that “Audrina” is all that’s left? Lauren Conrad grounded the show, but the dark heart of The Hills has always been Heidi. In five seasons, the former Ms. Montag has evolved from a bright-eyed naive teenager to an eerily plastic socialite with a dollhouse-perfect life (Big wedding! Big house! Beautiful clothes!) Are Heidi and Spencer living the American Dream, or a perfect holographic imitation? Does it matter either way? — Darren Franich
Dog the Bounty Hunter
Armed with mace, the world’s longest mullet and a healthy dose of Dog-isms (“At the end of the criminal rainbow, there is no pot of gold.”), Duane ”Dog” Chapman and the rest of his crew have door-smashed their way into our regular TV rotation for seven seasons (the latest premiered Dec. 2). The appeal of the show could be that viewers enjoy the ruthless pursuit to rid the Earth’s scum. A less virtuous (and likely the more accurate) answer is that the show is pure ass-kicking. Like an action movie, without all that pesky plot. As it turns out, at the end of the criminal-hunting rainbow, there is a pot of gold. – Sandra Gonzalez
Photo Credit: Hills: MTV; Dog: Scott Gries/A&E Network