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Canceled too soon: The 6 best short-lived reality shows

Reality shows come and go, many without any fanfare. There were several that I got attached to, then had to say goodbye to—and sometimes, I felt like I was the only viewer. Here are my top six that deserve postmortem recognition!

Love Is in the Heir (E!, 2004)

I love a good reality show pun, and this is no exception. This show depicted Ann Claire Van Shaick, an Iranian princess, who defied her royal family by moving to Los Angeles to make it as a country singer. If she failed, she would have to move back to Iran and marry a man her parents chose for her.

Ann Claire was a pleasant enough person, but she was constantly outshone by her charismatic assistant/confidant, Mike. Then there was the fact that the show also profiled her quest to find love. On each date, she would always reveal that she was royalty immediately, thus making the dates uncomfortable. The show only lasted one season, so one can only assume she never made it as a singer.

Sunset Tan (E!, 2007–2008)

The plot was as shallow as the celebs who patronized the titular tanning salon. Still, sometimes you need to distract yourself from the harsh realities of the world by following the adventures of tanning-salon employees.

Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel (TruTV, 2008–2010)

In 2008, nothing was cooler than the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas (well, according to Us Weekly and E!). The hotel hosted a daytime poolside party called Rehab, where celebs and high rollers went to day-drink and order expensive bottles of alcohol in a reserved cabana. The show chronicled the security and server staff of the hotel and how they dealt with obnoxious, drunk, and unruly party guests, usually resulting in calling an ambulance and/or banning them from the hotel.

This show was in no way a cautionary tale; in fact, it probably made the Rehab party even more popular. It was refreshing to see the other side of things—the people who had to deal with the drunken debauchery we usually watch. The staff still had plenty of its own colorful characters to keep it interesting.

Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo, 2010–2011)

This Bravo show lasted two seasons and was styled in the format of Project Runway, but with socialite China Chow in the Heidi Klum role. Instead of fashion, the contestants were visual artists specializing in varying mediums. The weekly challenges were really interesting (designing a public art installation or reimagining classic book covers, to name a few). The artists had plenty of their own unique personas. For example, a performance artist built a hut and slathered herself in fake feces while sitting under it in a gallery. Another controversial artist build a giant sculpture of an asshole, and also ejaculated on a drawing of Mickey Mouse. He was the group’s frontrunner.

This show, like Project Runway, was great for having a significant representation of LGBT people on television. Unfortunately, determining who the “best” artist is among a group of artists is way too subjective. I suppose audiences just wanted to see people design clothes, as the show was canceled after two seasons.

Work of Art

Pretty Wild (E!, 2010)

Serendipity befell this show about rich teen Alexis Neiers and her adopted sister, Tess Taylor—two teens pursuing modeling careers, among other things. Whiny, selfish, immature, and beautiful, they were the perfect fit for reality television. Just as the show started filming, Neiers was arrested for her involvement in the “Bling Ring” robberies, later depicted in the Sophia Coppola film The Bling Ring. (Emma Watson played the character loosely based on Nieirs.) Several scenes from the film were based verbatim on some of the scenes from the show, including their mother, Andrea, trying to homeschool them, and teaching them the tenets of The Secret. Other scenes were based on Neiers’ interview with Vanity Fair.

Andrea, a former model, enabled the girls’ bratty, self-absorbed behavior by constantly letting the girls get what they want. However, something really interesting and unusual happened toward the latter episodes: Andrea had the realization that she did not do the things she should have as a mother and expressed regret for her actions; she actually started to change the way she held her daughters accountable. What? On a reality show? Unheard of.

Alexis continued to be the world’s biggest brat, jetting off to Mexico despite her lawyer warning her not to leave the country while the case was pending. Just as things got truly interesting with the trial and the relationship with her mother, the show was canceled after nine episodes.

Alexis Neiers has since condemned her behavior, left the linelight, started a family, and become a rehab counselor. It’s refreshing that a former reality star achieved such growth.

The It Factor (Bravo, 2002–2003)

In 2002, reality shows were already a huge part of pop culture, as they are now. Yet Bravo still produced this compelling reality series about actors trying to make it in New York (first season) and then Los Angeles (season 2). This was before housewives ripped off each other’s hair extensions and women competed for a C-list celebrities’ attention. The show was a real and heartbreaking look into what people sacrificed for their dreams of becoming actors. The cameras followed them to auditions, recorded rejection phone calls, and even accompanied them on their day jobs of cleaning houses. Did they make it? Some of them didn’t, but some did, like Godfey the comedian, and some guy you may have heard of named Jeremy Renner.

I would love a current show about actors and the entertainment industry as insightful and real as The It Factor. Unfortunately, these days, appearing on a reality show is the kiss of death for someone who wants to become a serious actor, so it’s unlikely there will ever be another show like it.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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