Forget the Turkey: What reALIty TV is thankful for this season, meatballs included

Allison Lasher, Blogger

With Thanksgiving just days away, I was inspired to pay tribute to the shows, seasons and people that have been the gravy on this fall season of reality TV. Even after Thursday’s food coma wears off, these are things I’ll still be thankful for well into the next holiday — or at least until their shows’ seasons end in December.

Baby Lorenzo

When Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi announced she was pregnant, it quickly became the front page story of many magazines, the butt of many online jokes and a cause for concern for many. People worried the party girl from “Jersey Shore” would stick to her meatball ways and prove to be an unfit mother. In actuality, the little boy’s arrival kept his mother away from the bar and focused on the bottle — the baby bottle, that is. Snooki stopped partying, even on the set of “Snooki & J-WOWW” and the final season of “Jersey Shore.” Snooki steered clear of drinking and even moved into her own house in Seaside Heights, away from the craziness that is “Jersey Shore.” Although I’m happy for the little tanned family, I am thankful for Lorenzo because in keeping Snooki occupied, he unleashed the wrath of Deena.

Deena Cortese’s quest for a “meatball day” in June quickly resulted in her arrest. The “Jersey Shore” star started her day early by drinking, dancing, yelling and smacking cars until she was finally detained for disorderly conduct. At her trial, she was slapped on the wrist with a small fine for not walking (or in this case stumbling) on the sidewalk. Without baby Lorenzo occupying his mom, we wouldn’t have this gif, and we would have two meatballs roaming the boardwalk, which is much scarier than just one.

“The Challenge”

Over the past decade of MTV’s “The Challenge,” I have never once been disappointed. Year after year, I am thankful this show continues to find a crazy cast of competitive characters, producers and challenge designers who must be on something. The high-altitude, high-stress challenges could only be created by adrenaline junkies or the insane. The challenges are so physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, it’s a wonder the contestants are willing to return season after season for such little reward. If “Survivor” were set in a “Real World”- quality house and only cast fit, young, insane people who all had awkward pasts with each other, it still wouldn’t come close to “The Challenge.”

I’ve often wondered how “The Challenge” stays so consistently awesome, and I’ve narrowed it down to a few factors. The host, T.J. Lavin, is a champ and you can read why I think so here. But more than that, the format of the show changes just enough to keep each season fresh. This time around it’s “Battle of the Seasons,” which brought four former cast members from different seasons of the “The Real World” to compete against each other as a team, causing a need for an entirely different strategy. In past seasons, teams have been divided into Rookies vs. Veterans, Bad Asses vs. Good Guys and Rivals, among many others. These changes consistently keep the alliances interesting and test pre-show friendships, often resulting in intense drama. When other shows flounder, “The Challenge” comes back stronger every time, and for this I am extremely thankful.

“Survivor” Season 25 

Now that I have seen a good amount of season 25, I feel comfortable confessing I used to be terrified for the future of “Survivor.” With Jeff Probst getting his own show, I was nervous that would be the end of my all-time favorite TV series. Talk show aside, “Survivor” was simply going downhill. I was reluctant to admit this before, but the past few seasons before 25 were huge disappointments and at times, I’m sorry to say, bores. Probst promised season 25 would be better, and he was right. This is my favorite season of “Survivor” so far. In the past, I found myself sticking with the series because I didn’t know how to walk away from it. I watched every episode because I had seen every previous episode. This season is a strong reminder of what I loved about the show when I was 10 and what I still love about the show today. It is constantly surprising me — there are players who are actually playing the game! That seems simple enough, but believe me, it is refreshing to see more than one player orchestrating the game and more fringe players making big moves against the main players. I am excited to watch and tweet every Wednesday, and I have no idea what to expect. With such an amazing season under his belt, Probst said on “Rob Has A Podcast” he will be back for seasons 27 and 28. The contracts haven’t been signed yet, but if Jeff Probst says he’s on board, it’s as good as done.