Reality check: The girls of summer TV


Ever since the first season of CBS’ Survivor demonstrated to networks that people do watch TV over the summer and prefer to watch new series rather than reruns, summer has been the land of reality television. Even though the big dramatic series have been wrapped up for the year, all the networks (and a bunch of cable channels too) are planning to premiere new reality shows this year. Some of them are classic competition shows (Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, HGTV Design Star), some of them are celebreality (The Simple Life Goes to Camp), and some of them are just plain odd. Here are some of the more interesting ones to keep an eye on:

Fight Girls (Oxygen): This reality series chronicles 10 women competing to be the fest female fighters in the world in the World Muay Thai Championship. Here’s a photo of Gina, former Muay Thai champion:

According to the press release: "The eight one hour episodes place the women in Sin City where two girls battle in elimination fights in front of a live Las Vegas crowd each week determining who earns the right to fight in Thailand. Living together in a Vegas mansion, the fighters are put through extreme physical training but also the emotional challenges they deal with day to day. Within the seven week challenge, the girls experience everything from relationship break-ups, morale-busting injuries, roommate confrontations to wedding planning." The series premieres Tuesday, June 12th at 10:30 p.m. on Oxygen.

Fast Cars & Superstars – Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race (ABC): Celebrities including Jewel, Serena Williams and William Shatner are trained by race car drivers to compete in a stock car race. The seven-episode series premieres June 7 at 8 p.m.

I admire Serena Williams a lot, but this race suit is problematic. You can’t see her amazing arms when she’s wearing it! And also, sadly, this show is really not environmentally friendly. Do you know how much gasoline is used in stock car racing? Can you say global warming? I think they should create a show called Surviving Mass Transit – Celebrities Ride the Subway.

On the Lot (Fox): The American Idol for movie directors, On the Lot has seen its ratings plummet repeatedly since it premiered May 22. But when I watched the premiere episode, I actually thought it had some promise. It’s definitely one of the classier reality shows out there, and it’s practically oozing with Hollywood-esque feel (as in it’s a 24/7 schmoozefest). But it made a misstep, I thought, when it cast the photogenic entertainment reporter Adrianna Costa as the Ryan Seacrest-like host. In a video clip on the show’s website, Costa revealed that one of her favorite interviews was Lindsay Lohan. Costa’s trying hard, but she just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the cast or the judges, who include the awesome Carrie Fisher.

On the other hand, On the Lot seems to be reflecting reality quite accurately. Among the 15 finalists selected, only four are women.

What else will I be watching this summer? Well, tonight CBS premieres Pirate Master, its bizarre yet potentially hilarious reality series in which a bunch of people dress up as pirates and go forth seeking booty (as in, gold). It has one lesbian contestant, Jupiter Mendoza, who unfortunately chose to be closeted on the series itself. And next Wednesday, Season 3 of Bravo’s Top Chef premieres, including out lesbian chef Sandee Birdsong (next week we’ll have an interview with her).

I’m probably not gonna be watching the bizarre and creepy Solitary (in which people are confined alone in octagonal pods for as long as they can stand), Age of Love (in which a single guy chooses between dating younger or older women) or Hey Paula (yes, a reality show about Paula Abdul), but hey, if I’m really bored, maybe I’ll tune into Who Wants To Be a Superhero. Hey — those of you who created your own superhero recently: I bet it’s not too late to audition!

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