Which Reality Show Is The Best To Win?

Image by Sam Woolley
Image by Sam Woolley

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Which reality shows are worth winning? Specifically, which ones do you gain the most from winning versus the ones where you just try to stay on long enough to get exposure? American Idol seems okay as long as you’re doing country music. Seems like you’re better off losing halfway so you’re not locked into a shitty recording contract though. Winning Top Chef seems to be an actual honor. You definitely don’t want to win Bachelor/Bachelorette because the marriages don’t last and being a fan favorite loser gets you your own season. I don’t know any America’s Next Top Model winner and I don’t know why they even bother with the Next Food Network Star. How do you rank them?


Top Chef is the best one to win. Even if you’re one of the forgettable champions of that show, you still get a six-figure cash prize with no strings attached (apart from signing a contract allowing producers to portray you as Satan Incarnate if they don’t have a lot of good footage to work with), AND that’s a legit thing to have on a resume. In fact, just going ON Top Chef is probably a bigger career boost for people than winning other reality competitions. If you go on Top Chef and then open a restaurant, it gets a shitload of local media attention, and Top Chef is usually the first thing that gets mentioned in your credentials.

And it works! As a customer, I’m completely gullible when it comes to the Top Chef effect. I went to a place that was run by a contestant once and I was like, “Oooooh, this guy was on Top Chef! FANCY!” I felt like I was finally getting to eat some of the shit that I usually have to watch other, cooler people eat on TV. They could put a little “TC” icon by restaurants listed on Yelp and they’d probably have their bookings go up 10 percent. Anyway, here’s how I would rank them, from Best To Win to Worst To Win:

  1. Top Chef.
  2. The Amazing Race. You get to travel all over the world AND you win a million bucks.
  3. Survivor. Again, you win a million bucks, although you have to suffer through a lot more horseshit to get it. I know that’s fun for bragging rights, and pretending you’re a tough guy, but imagine being trapped on an island with a bunch of fame whores for 40 days and NOT winning the money. I’d kill myself.
  4. Project Runway. This doesn’t have the cache it used to, but I think it’s always best to win a reality show that is also a somewhat respected skills competition. People watch The Bachelor to gawk at all the morons and laugh at them. You’re not getting out of that show with your dignity intact.
  5. Chopped. Take it from me! It’s nice to win a reality show that takes only a day to film. By the way, I’d have the original Iron Chef at the top of this list if it were still on, because nobody ever fucking won it. Morimoto could have served his own vomit and still beaten any challenger.
  6. The Voice. Since Idol is now canceled, this is probably the best singing competition to win, even though, as Yusuke noted above, the contract you have to sign with Universal upon winning is probably some real TLC-level robbery. Also, there’s not much professional credibility to appearing on this show because A) The judges and viewers don’t always have great taste, B) There are no original songs played because that would be horrible, and C) People at home can tell within five seconds if they like you or not. They don’t have to go to your restaurant to figure out that you’re a fucking fraud.
  7. Judge Judy. A small cash settlement AND legal dominion over my former best friend? SCORE.
  8. The Ultimate Fighter. Congrats! Dana White now owns you and will make you fight like a dog.
  9. Shark Tank. Oh hey, Mark Cuban likes your business idea! It’s doomed. You’re gonna take your seed money and then foolishly sink the rest of your savings into it and then go belly up by the end of the year. And then Mark will complain if you tweet about him.
  10. Hell‘s Kitchen. No one gives a crap.
  11. Celebrity Apprentice. You’re already a fucking joke if you’re on this.
  12. Strangled with your own tie
  13. The Bachelor.


What’s the most nebbish hobby you can think of that would instantly make a woman maybe think twice about continuing that conversation? My money is on model train enthusiasts.

I’ve been to lots of train shows with my sons and you’re probably right. The guys behind the table are all 70 years old, 600 pounds, and are ready to scream at you if your kid touches anything. Also, I think that people are wary of any grown man indulging in what appears to be a child’s hobby. If you’re a grown man walking around in overalls and a choochoo hat, I’m gonna have suspicions.

But if I were a woman I’d also be terrified of any guy who says he’s really into photography, because it’s a mortal lock that he’s an amateur pornographer. “Would you consider… POSING for me? Will you be my muse?!” I’d run. I’d run away with Olympic speed.


The truth is that it’s always good to be passionate about something, and you can always pull off having a strange hobby if you’re self-aware about how it might look to an outsider. BUT—and take it from a blogging enthusiast—guys can get really obnoxious about their pet projects, obsessing over them and lashing out at everyone else if they dare to interfere. OMG YOU GOT A THUMBPRINT ON THE CELLOPHANE JACKET OF MY SUPERMAN #4! OUT WITH YOU! All hobbies are good (charming, even) in moderation. They help define you. But if you’re like Will Ferrell at the end of the Lego Movie, you’ve taken that shit too far.


One of the only people at my job that I consider a friend told me that a lot of people in the office think I’m disrespecting them because sometimes I leave without saying goodbye to any of them. Is there a certain etiquette to this? I don’t mean to disrespect them this job is pure shit and in my haste to leave I usually ignore everyone.


Yeah I think they’re being overly sensitive. This isn’t a goddamn wedding. I mean, the goal is to leave work and get home without anyone noticing and/or dumping more goddamn work on you. Anything that could potentially stall your exit is a terrifying prospect. I used to put on my jacket and have my bag on my shoulder before quietly muttering, “Okay I’m out” to whoever was around and then bolting for the exit. But you can also do the Irish Goodbye. Apart from your dickhead boss, it’s not anyone’s business to know when and why you’re going home. You’re free to keep that to yourself.

I think the only reason to publicly say goodbye to colleagues is if you’re meeting them out later and need to firm up plans, or if you’re working with them on some project and you’d feel bad if you left them with more crap to do. But if you have nothing outstanding? Fuck ‘em.



After years of struggling to eat a cupcake without looking like a 2-year-old, I started eating my cupcakes with a fork. My girlfriend has informed me that I’m weird. Am I a monster?


No, but you may as well try the LIFE-CHANGING internet method where you take off the bottom stump, stuck it on top of the frosting, and then eat the cupcake like a sandwich. Please note that I have tried this. It’s okay, but you still get crumbs all over the place. You should really just buy the mini cupcakes instead. You can mix up flavors and you don’t need to have Julia Roberts’s mouth to take a bite out of the thing. I don’t ever need to eat a regular-sized cupcake again.


If Ron Jeremy died, would he be commemorated in the Oscars In Memoriam? He’s appeared in 2,216 movies.


Nope. I know he’s been in non-porn movies like Tetherball: The Movie, but no. The Oscars are far too CLASSY and serious to acknowledge the Hedgehog’s contributions to the anal creampie genre. Also, the only reason he’s in real movies is because someone thought it would be HILARIOUS to have Ron Jeremy in a regular movie. “Let’s get Ron Jeremy LOL he’s fucked people on camera.” No one’s like, “Man, this guy has really got the goods!”

By the way, I’m still stunned by the chain of events that unfolded on Sunday night. How do you fuck that up? How does Warren Beatty, upon seeing that he has the wrong card, not say, “Hey! I have the wrong fucking card!”? Leave it to a pair of actors to decide that’s a good time to fucking ad-lib. I wouldn’t trust an actor with my Starbucks order.



Donald Trump is 6' 3” but he has shrimp fingers. Can he palm a basketball?

No. I’m actually the same height, and I can’t palm a basketball for shit. Not only do you have to have large hands to do it, but you need STRONG hands, too. You need the tensile strength in your fingertips to hold that thing like you’re trying to clamp an alligator’s jaw shut. What kinda hand strength does Trump have? He eats crap all day and is too lazy to jerk himself off. I’m surprised he can hold a pen, frankly. No way he can palm a basketball.


Frankly, I’ve probably got Trump’s weakass hand strength, too. You know those dudes who work on car engines all day and have hands that are all strong and gnarled and they have fingers that are a foot wide and can drive in screws with their fingernails? Those are good hands. I do not have those hands. I have fragile little preppy boy hands. SAD!



How old does someone have to be before they can officially be deemed a douchebag? I saw my 12-year old hanging out with some kids from his school at a ski hill and there was one kid there who was acting like a laxbro-in-training. But is 12 too young for that label? Maybe at 12, you instead call him a brat, or a punk? I’m going with a cutoff of middle school. Pre-middle-school = brat. Middle school or higher = douchebag. Agree or disagree?


I think you need to be in high school to fully be a douchebag. If you’re in seventh grade and you’re walking around slapping drinks out of people’s hands, you are technically a LITTLE SHIT. Don’t underestimate how much fun it is to call a kid a little shit. “That Jenkins boy… he’s a little shit, that one.” It’s a very scientific term. You haven’t blossomed into full douche yet, but you’re well on your way. Once you can drive a car and cut people off while merging, you’re ready for your promotion.

You may not know this, but this company actually has a style guide ruling about “douchebag.” We’re not supposed to use it anymore, because people here think that it has been co-opted to the point where only douchebags use it. OH THE IRONY. Instead, we’re supposed to use alternatives like shitbag (my preference), fuckboy, and such and such. But I think “douchebag” is still worth using. If I see a dude with a visor publicly berating a parking valet about scratching his Jaguar, what other possible word could I use to describe him?



Which final award mistake was worse, Miss Universe or the Oscars?

I think the Miss Universe one was worse because it was the only prize of the night and it happened to ONE person, who shouldered all of the humiliation. Everyone who made La La Land will be fine. They already got a shitload of awards for it, and now they’ll have a little sympathy to go along with a higher asking price for whatever they do next.


But Miss Universe… that was the be-all, end-all for Miss Colombia. You don’t get another chance to win it, like Viola Davis does with an Oscar. Once it’s taken from you (by Steve Harvey, of all people), it’s gone FOREVER. I’d still be mad on my deathbed.


Does it matter where condiments go on a burger? Let’s assume that the choices are limited to ketchup, mustard, and relish. Would a burger with ketchup on the top bun and a mustard/relish mix on the bottom bun taste different than a burger with some other combination of those three? Feel free to opine on more exotic combinations. I have devoted far too much time to considering this matter.


I’m the worst person to ask because I like my burger with a shitload of ketchup. I take off the top of the bun and unload a gallon of it onto the poor thing. Then I put the top back on and what happens? All the ketchup slides off and forms a lake on my plate. Then I DIP the burger into the mess, like some sort of remedial dickhead.

But I never put condiment under the burger because A) It’s logistically difficult and B) I want to taste the meat first. My priority is to have the beef hit my tongue before the other flavors come marching in. I have noticed that if you like mayo on your burger, a lot of places will swipe the bun on both sides, so that you get mayo on the top and the bottom. This is because people who like mayo are Satan.



We all enjoy awfulness of the isolated singing tracks of David Lee Roth, Linda McCartney, and others. How embarrassing would it be if you were mic’d up while driving your car and all it recorded was your voice? Personally, I sing, answer rhetorical questions asked by radio ads, comment on the driving habits of others, etc. How cringe-worthy would it be to hear all of that out of context?


It would be fine. I mean, you already know that it probably doesn’t sound great. Sometimes I’ll sing along to the radio, only I’ll be too loud, so I have to jack up the music so that I don’t hear myself sounding fucking terrible. Or sometimes I’ll sing to myself without any music on, only to give up after a few seconds because it’s not coming out quite the way I’d hoped. So I know exactly how an isolated vocal track for my shower or car would sound.

By the way, I know we like to isolate vocal tracks at this site once in a while to goof on people (Hi, Mariah) but I don’t think anyone who’s had it happen should be ashamed. It’s live. You’re not gonna have a perfect studio voice, and who knows if the sound guy fucked up and you can’t hear the drummer or whatever. Also, David Lee Roth was notorious for being a lousy singer (FUN FACT: Producer Ted Templeton actually wanted Van Halen to fire Roth and replace him with Sammy Hagar BEFORE they ever recorded their first album!), and yet who else would you want singing “Runnin’ With The Devil”? Sometimes the singing part is overrated. If you can do high kicks off the amp and get the crowd going wild, it’s okay to miss a note or two.



This morning I was in my buddy’s truck and we were headed to up to the mountains to ski. He reached into the back seat of the cab and pulled out a couple McDonald’s sausage breakfast burritos, which he told me had been there for a couple days. He threw them onto the heater on top of the dash and 15 minutes later had himself a breakfast. Just heat ‘em up a bit and with a couple picante salsa packs they’re good, he said! Did I just witness a real life Jim Tomsula lifehack?


No, you witnessed a man giving himself food poisoning. I know that McDonald’s food is made from space-age polymers designed to withstand any sort of biodegradation, but that doesn’t mean you should actually eat a burrito that’s been sitting out in the open air for a week. You may survive, but your bowels won’t.


Do you think we will ever see a new federal holiday created? What would have to happen for that to exist? When would it be?


Oh there will definitely be more of them. We’re roughly two weeks away from President Trump signing White Appreciation Day into law, and that’s only the beginning. Trump will definitely give himself his own holiday, too. It’ll be called Trump Day, and everyone will have to pray in the direction Mar-A-Lago when the bells chime. Then you celebrate with a well-done steak doused in fucking ketchup. Gonna be a real party. Also: After we join Russia in declaring nuclear war on China, and then everyone dies in that war, we’ll have a day off to remember that war. GINA DAY. You get to have a picnic and everything.

I was actually surprised that 9/11 wasn’t made an official holiday, but I guess I understand why they didn’t. You don’t want people to feel too bad about having a long weekend. That’s why we have broadly themed holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day, which honor serious things but are kinda vague, so that I completely forget the purpose of them. This is how, one day, we’ll end up with a holiday that honors, like, spelling.



Every recipe seems to call for fresh ground black pepper. I get it, it’s the best. But I also know some recipes differentiate between regular olive oil for cooking and the best stuff for finishing. Are there recipes where you can just use the dusty pre-ground stuff without suffering recipe failure? Like in soups and stews where presumably all the flavors are going to meld together anyway? It’s a pain in the ass to grind and measure and don’t tell me to get one of those fancy grinders that spits out exactly 1/2 of a tsp for you because I’m very poor.


You can use the pre-ground crap for big amounts, sure. I don’t even bother measuring it, frankly. I just turn the mill over the pan until I’m tired and don’t wanna do it anymore. Every house should come with a horny Italian pepper boy.


I’m in the Hennepin county government center on jury duty, making a doody of my own. Question: Is this cheap ass toilet paper really a cost saver when you have to pull 5x as much to wipe confidently? I say no.


Well, the reason that they use that paper in industrial bathrooms is to save on both the paper AND the plumbing. If they gave out Charmin for free, people like me would hog it and clog the toilet INSTANTLY. That’s where the real expense comes in.


But you really do save money on the sandpaper TP. I checked prices for the big rolls and you get roughly 1,000 ft. of TP for five to six bucks. A square of TP is 4.5” x 4.5”, which means you get 2,666 squares per roll. That’s a whole lot of shitty toilet paper for your money. I have to take out a second mortgage for a 32-pack of Cottonelle.


If you woke up tomorrow with the power to be one of the following, which would you choose?

1,000th best guitar player in the world

500th best piano player

100th best saxophone player

50th best cello player

10th best accordion player

#1 didgeridoo player

Guitar. Always pick the guitar. Given how many hacks are trying to play guitar out there, I bet the 1,000th best guitarist is a pretty good guitarist. You could be in a band and get GIRLS with that kind of high octane shredding. The only other choice worth considering up on that board is the piano man, and while I’m very proud of the fact that I taught myself how to play “Jump” a few months ago, it’s still not as cool as knowing some tasty guitar riffs. Girls aren’t gonna throw their bras at you because you can knock off a flawless rendition of “Heart and Soul”.


Cello might also be good. Cellists look very serious. I bet you get hired for a lot of funerals.


Given your love of lox, can lox be eaten with any food other than cream cheese, and if not, is there another food that can only be paired with one other food?


You can eat lox with other crap. It’s good if you lay it on top of eggs any style, or with sour cream and miniature bread. I actually cure salmon at home myself, which sounds like haughty dipshittery, but it’s not that hard. You just buy a pound of salmon, douse it in vodka, and then coat it in a mix of salt and sugar. Wrap it up and put something heavy on top, and then put it in the fridge for two days and PRESTO! A big fucking slab of gravlax, all for you! And at a fraction of the price! I just carve it and drop whole slices in my mouth right at the kitchen counter, like a pig. It’s the highlight of my weekend.

I can’t think of a food that absolutely has to be combined with some other food in order to be edible, unless we’re talking about, like, flour. I don’t think you were talking about flour. Our Tom Scocca suggests that the only answer is fake crabmeat, which is tasty in a California roll and abominable in any other form. And Samer says, “the answer is mayo, and the only thing it should be paired with is the garbage.” I like where Samer’s head is at.



What if Soylent Green was a real thing? Like we found out that Cheez-Its were made of people? Not completely made of people, but say ten percent of the ingredients is people based. Would society have a Charlton Heston-like break down upon learning? Or would we just shrug our shoulders and down a half a box of the extra toasted flavor in one sitting?


No man, people would be upset. People go nuts online when people tweet out a fried chicken head that came in their McNuggets box by accident. They’re not MEH-ing away cannibalism. The only way people would accept it is if it was Chick-fil-A behind the crime. They would just say, “No it’s not people,” and then people would believe it and cry out FAKE NEWS, because that’s how shit works now. And liberals like me would quietly keep eating it because it’s so damn good. The secret is brining the human thigh in pickle juice!

Email of the week!


I need to know if there is something wrong with me.

My New Year’s resolution every year is to learn a new skill. For 2017 I decided I wanted to learn to rollerskate. I never learned as a kid—only ice skating and rollerblading—and I thought it looked fun, so I got a pair of rollerskates.

I went to the roller rink last night for the first time and had fun for about an hour. It’s way harder than rollerblading, because you really can’t lean back at all, but I was having a good time. I was pretty much the only adult there, other than people watching their small children skate. It was me, a group of 6 or 7 year old girls, and a bunch of high schoolers who were dancing to Jason Derulo and doing tricks and generally intimidating me with their rollerskating prowess. Those little shits were skating backwards and spinning around and taking Snapchat video selfies while skating.

Anyway, coming around a bend on one lap I took a pretty spectacular fall which felt like it took thirty seconds—my feet went out from under me and I tried to catch my balance several times but eventually gave in to the fall. I landed square on my ass which hurt real bad and seemed to shake the entire rink. I sat on the floor with my ears ringing and fought back the tears and briefly considering sitting there on the floor for the rest of my life, but I said to myself, “Girl, get your ass up, dust yourself off, and do a couple more laps around this rink so no one who just saw that thinks you’re a pussy.”

I got up. I reached back to brush any roller rink debris off my ass only to discover that the impact of my ass hitting the floor had completely exploded my leggings down the seam and my ass was OUT in this rink full of children and their parents and the cool high schoolers on dates. I began sobbing with uncontrollable laughter which I’m sure made me seem more crazy. I skated off the rink, grabbed my jacket, and got out of there post-haste. That’s all well and good and it was truthfully the funniest thing that has ever happened in my life. I haven’t decided if I can go back to that rink yet. So many children saw my butthole.

However, today my entire back, neck, and head are killing me and my tailbone is black and blue and so swollen it hurts to sit. I might have broken my coccyx. Is this normal for a beginning rollerskater? I didn’t skate as a child, so I don’t know. Do little kids learning to skate fall down and bust their asses (LITERALLY) that badly, it just doesn’t hurt so bad the next day because they don’t weigh 135 pounds and don’t hit the ground like a sack of bricks? Is this part of the normal learning curve for rollerskating, or am I some kind of uncoordinated ape and rollerskating just isn’t for me? I can’t take falls like this on a regular basis. I have miraculously avoided my family history of back problems, and I’m not trying to develop them. I’m weighing my options and I don’t know if I should give my sad ass a week or two to heal and get back on that metaphorical horse, or if this is a sign and it’s time to give up.


I’d go back to rollerblading. Kids are good at falling and grownups suck at it.

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.