August 23, 2013 8:00am PT by Scott Feinberg
Emmys: Scott Feinberg Breaks Down the Reality Categories
This story first appeared in the Sept. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow (PBS)
PRO: On the air since 1997, Antiques has been nominated in this category every year since 2005 and before that twice for outstanding nonfiction program. It's not flashy, but the thrill of seeing average Joes learn from appraisers that their old and mysterious items are of great value keeps people tuning in.
CON: It's never won this prize, and it's hard to imagine that it will after this many years. Moreover, because it airs on PBS, it reaches far fewer eyes than its rivals.
Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel) MOST LIKELY WINNER!
PRO: This harrowing series, which won this category two years ago but wasn't nominated last year, follows the travails of people who work aboard crab-fishing vessels on the harsh Bering Sea. It's the only nominee this year that received more than one nom -- its others are for cinematography, editing and sound mixing.
CON: In the history of this category, no show ever has won, lost then won again.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Food Network)
PRO: One of the few Food Network shows to attract a male audience, this travelogue series, on the air since 2006 and receiving its first Emmy recognition this year, follows rambunctious restaurateur Guy Fieri as he road-trips across America, popping into unique restaurants along the way.
CON: Fieri's credibility took a hit in November when The New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells torched his new Times Square eatery.
MythBusters (Discovery Channel)
PRO: Each episode of one of Discovery's most popular programs -- which has accrued five consecutive noms but remains in search of its first win -- revolves around special effects experts who test the viability of myths, rumors and popular beliefs.
CON: Discovery has to give Deadliest Catch an equally aggressive push.
Shark Tank (ABC)
PRO: This Mark Burnett production, also nominated last year, features aspiring entrepreneurs pitching ideas to potential investors, including Mark Cuban, who are known as "sharks" and sometimes offer them deals. Viewership has grown each year since its 2009 debut, even in the historically unforgiving Friday night slot.
CON: Some have criticized the harsh treatment and potential manipulation of some guests by the panelists.
Undercover Boss (CBS)
PRO: A nominee in this category for four consecutive years and a winner last year, this show follows execs who take on low-level jobs within their own companies. The only thing more rewarding than seeing the boss get a taste of his own medicine is seeing employees receive acknowledgement for their efforts.
CON: The further we move from the nadir of the recession, the more enthusiasm for the show wanes.
OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race (CBS) MOST LIKELY WINNER!
PRO: Since 2003, this epic adventure show, on which twosomes compete against one another in competitions that send them around the world, has won this category every year but one -- when Top Chef upended it in 2010 -- and this year it's back with an impressive five noms.
CON: After earning a reality hosting nomination in each of the past four years, TAR's Phil Keoghan notably was snubbed this year.
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
PRO: The show helped to make dancing cool again by pairing celebs with pros and sending them off to be judged. It has been a bridesmaid in this category every year since 2006 but received a category-leading nine noms this year, including one for host Tom Bergeron (his sixth in a row), last year's winner.
CON: Two dance shows could split the support of the genre's fans, and So You Think You Can Dance received four choreography noms versus DWTS' two.
Project Runway (Lifetime)
PRO: A nominee -- and loser -- in this category every year since 2005, this fashion-focused show, on which contestants are challenged to create beautiful clothes, picked up five noms. It can't hurt that one of the show's exec producers is Harvey Weinstein, the all-time greatest awards campaigner.
CON: Many have opined that the 11th season featured several silly challenges and ended on a rather disappointing note.
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
PRO: Fox can't be happy that American Idol was snubbed, but it means that all of the network's resources will go behind this heartwarming show, which tasks young dancers with adapting to different styles. Its ninth season brought its third consecutive nom in this category along with six others.
CON: It's higher-brow but lower-rated than DWTS and might not even be brought back for an 11th season.
Top Chef (Bravo)
PRO: The 10th season of the popular cooking competition, on which a group of chefs is presented with culinary challenges and then evaluated by food and wine industry experts, earned it its seventh consecutive nom in this category. (It won in 2010, becoming the only show to topple The Amazing Race.)
CON: The show received a category-low two noms.
The Voice (NBC)
PRO: The reigning fave of TV viewers (it was Nielsen's highest-rated reality show) aims to find and develop promising singers through blind auditions and tutelage from pro coaches. It picked up five noms this year, and for the second year in a row, it's the only singing competition that made the cut in the category.
CON: No singing competition ever has won this category -- not even trailblazing American Idol in its heyday.