July 10, 2014

What's the difference between a "structured" and an "unstructured" reality show?

These are new categories in the Emmys, and separate from competition reality shows like "Project Runway" and "The Amazing Race." A competition seems like the main reality show structure, but that's not the concept here. Reality competition is a third category.

The announcement of the nominations just came out, and I could not figure out, from reading those 2 sets of nominations, what "structured" and "unstructured" was supposed to mean. Here's WaPo's attempt to explain the distinction: Structured reality shows have "something of a routine, such as MTV’s 'Catfish,' Discovery’s 'MythBusters' and History’s 'Pawn Stars.'" And unstructured reality shows "are the ones that just follow wacky people around and see what happens: Think A&E’s 'Duck Dynasty,' E!’s 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' and Bravo’s 'The Real Housewives of New York City.'"

Only one of the shows named in the preceding paragraph appears on the actual list of nominees, and that's "Mythbusters." I have no idea why.

23 comments:

John Lynch said...

There are so many reality shows that they needed more categories. Otherwise too many favorite shows are left out and the audience stops watching the award show.

It's just business.

rhhardin said...

How about realty shows. Solve the housing crisis.

rhhardin said...

Structured is like teaching kids to fly high performance jet fighters, like they do in camp.

Tank said...

I've watched Duck Dynasty ever since the "big" controversy. If they think it's not structured, then they have not watched the show.

The more I think about this, the more stupid they seem. It's ludicrous.

MadisonMan said...

I'm always surprised, sort of, when Ryan Seacrest is not nominated. There really isn't a better host of a Reality-type show.

But then I think that AI has been around for 14 years now, and Emmys don't usually go to old-timers, but to newcomers.

Sorun said...

I think "structured" means every episode follows the same script:

1. Need to build a motorcycle by a certain date.
2. OMG, it won't be done in time!!!
3. Yelling, handwringing, etc.
4. It's done just in time. Customer happy.

Unknown said...

I'm not averse to Duck D., but it's scripted. It's more "structured" than a reality game show.

Ann Althouse said...

"How about realty shows?"

There are plenty of realty shows: "The Property Brothers," "Love It Or List It"…

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm always surprised, sort of, when Ryan Seacrest is not nominated. There really isn't a better host of a Reality-type show."

And Jeff Probst. They left of Jeff Probst! The man is a genius. I never get tired of his routine.

Freeman Hunt said...

How is "Mythbusters" a reality show? Shouldn't it be a science show? It's not about people doing something that they would be doing if there were not a show.

Krumhorn said...

Mike Lowe is a pro and he has wit. Guy Fieri is definitely underrated, although his show was nominated. He manages to find ordinary hot and sweaty side street diner cooks and make them look interesting.

- Krumhorn

Krumhorn said...

How is "Mythbusters" a reality show? Shouldn't it be a science show? It's not about people doing something that they would be doing if there were not a show.

Isn't a mythbusting science show the very definition of reality? It's the non-reality shows that create the myths, such as a military sniper being so accurate, he shot an opposing sniper in the eye....through his scope....from 2 miles away.

- Krumhorn

Ann Althouse said...

"How is "Mythbusters" a reality show? Shouldn't it be a science show? It's not about people doing something that they would be doing if there were not a show."

By that standard, there is no such thing as a reality show.

Eric said...

They should just invent a new category "Least Pathetic Program at the Old Networks" but that might be too honest.

BJK said...

Shows like Mythbusters are structured, in that they have a fairly standard format, and the intrigue comes in what it is they are looking into (or, in the case of Mythbusters - blowing up) in that particular episode.

"Unstructured" reality shows are a bit of a misnomer, as the 'Keeping up with the Real Housewives Dynasty' programs are so heavily edited as to be scripted television....only without SAG members, so way cheaper to produce.


That being said, the Emmys as a whole are a sham: Tatiana Maslany did not get nominated for Orphan Black once again. (If you haven't watched that show...you apparently might be an Emmy Voter.)

Will Cate said...

That's quite a pithy distinction, methinks. As I've mentioned here before, there's really no such thing as "unstructured" reality TV.

Mark said...

How the hell could Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) not be nominated in Lead Actress in a Drama Series? How could she not be the only nominee??

She only plays five different characters in such a convincing way that you totally forget you are watching one actress and not five actresses. She only gives the best acting job I've ever seen.

Thorley Winston said...

I agree with Mark and BJK, Tatiana Maslany should have been a shoe in for Outstanding Actress for her ability to convincingly play five distinctly different characters nearly every episode. There aren’t a lot of shows that give actresses a chance to show the kind of range that she pulls off flawlessly on a regular basis and overlooking her was a grave disservice to the craft IMO.

clint said...

Because Orphan Black is genre.

And therefore not art.

Unlike reality tv.

If that "logic" makes your head hurt, you probably aren't an Emmy voter.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Even though it was scripted, Seinfeld could be considered the first unstructured reality show.

Jerry played himself on Seinfeld. Then his co-creator Larry David played himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Smilin' Jack said...

How the hell could Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) not be nominated in Lead Actress in a Drama Series?

Well, if they'd changed the name to "Orphan Orange," she might have had a chance. But some people just can't keep up.

Larry J said...

Isn't a mythbusting science show the very definition of reality? It's the non-reality shows that create the myths, such as a military sniper being so accurate, he shot an opposing sniper in the eye....through his scope....from 2 miles away.

- Krumhorn


It was several hundred yards, the man's name was Carlos Hathcock, and if you don't believe it, go tell it to the Marines.

Freeman Hunt said...

Without a show, fishermen would fish, pawn shops would operate, families would live together.

Without a show, there would be no Mythbusting, no Amazing Race, no Project Runway.

I would categorize Amazing Race and Project Runway as contest shows, and I would categorize Mythbusters as a science show.

All the watching what people supposedly do in their regular daily lives shows, I would categorize as "reality shows." (Though all of them are more or less scripted.)