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Reality Doesn't Have to Bite: Five Shows That Aren't Totally Terrible

Reality TV shows are here to stay, so we might as well celebrate the ones that don't suck.


A new survey from the Girl Scouts Institute confirms what most of us already know: Reality television can mess up our kids. After interviewing 1,100 teenage girls, the Girl Scouts concluded that reality show-watchers are more likely than non-watchers to agree that gossiping is a normal part of girls’ relationships, that it’s “hard to trust” girls, and that girls are naturally “catty” with each other [PDF]. They agree with statements like “Being mean earns you more respect than being nice,” and they spend a lot more time perfecting their appearance. Though the survey also points to evidence that train wrecks like Jersey Shore and Extreme Makeover provide teachable moments—two-thirds said that the shows have sparked important conversations with parents and friends—most of the data isn't very heartening.

But, as others have pointed out, all reality shows are not created equal. At least according to reality television's harshest critic: Jennifer Pozner, author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV.

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Jamie Oliver and LAUSD Make Up on Jimmy Kimmel Live

The fight between the school district and the celebrity chef over school lunches could be ending if the schmoozing on Kimmel's show is any clue.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4OC1a2JSS4

Could the battle between the nation's second largest school district, LAUSD, and celebrity chef and food activist Jamie Oliver be coming to a close? Oliver headed to Jimmy Kimmel Live Tuesday night to talk about his reality show, Food Revolution, and the fight with LAUSD over their refusal to let him film in school cafeterias. LAUSD's new superintendent, John Deasy, made a surprise appearance and the pair announced a plan to go ahead and make LAUSD's food healthier already. As a first step, Deasy says he's getting rid of sugar-filled chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk, a move the audience and Oliver applauded.

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Coal, the Great New Reality Show that Totally Misleads You About Modern Mining

The miners in Coal are hardworking, blue-collar Americans struggling for a paycheck. But this isn't the kind of mine America's coal comes from.


I spend a lot of time saying bad things about coal. I often—almost daily—repeat Dave Roberts' line that "coal is the enemy of the human race." Some people—usually people who are in the pocket of the industry—try to confuse being anti-coal with being anti-coal miner. I assure you that is not the case. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the humble heroes who crawl under mountains and dig out the fossils that light up so many homes. At the risk of sounding corny or like I'm writing copy for a beer ad (or a reality show), these folks are the real salt of the earth, hardworking American heroes, taking on perilous work to put food on the table back home.

So I'll admit I was a bit nervous tuning in to the the premier episode of Coal, the new reality show airing on Spike that follows the workers of the Cobalt Coal Corporation down into the mine. I knew going in that I was probably going to love the people, and hate what they were producing. Fortunately, the show actually winds up giving the viewer a hell of a lesson about how coal actually isn't (or shouldn't be) as cheap as the industry's master marketers are always telling us.

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Feast Your Eyes: Video Tour of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Truck

Jamie Oliver has unveiled his brand-new Food Revolution truck, complete with 8 kitchen stations and an inflatable stage.

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Why Doesn't the Los Angeles Unified School District Want Jamie Oliver's Help?

LAUSD has banned the popular chef from filming the second season of Food Revolution in the city's public schools. What gives?

The second season of Jamie Oliver's hit reality series Food Revolution is heading to Los Angeles—but you won't see any of the city's public schools on camera. The Los Angeles Unified School District is refusing to allow Oliver to film in any of its cafeterias.

Oliver told the Los Angeles Times, "I can’t get my foot into a single school. Which is a bit of a shame really. It just doesn’t seem in the interest of the public really. It’s not a great start for me, to be honest.”

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