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Best and worst of summer reality TV

Our editors pick the summer shows they're eagerly awaiting. Plus: Disabled contestants, original reality shows.
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Before getting to your questions, we'd like to share our thoughts on the upcoming summer reality TV season — shows we're eagerly awaiting, shows we're dreading, and those we can't wait to mock.

And just a reminder: If you've got a reality TV question, you may be able to find the answer in . If it's not there,

Andy says: Six years ago, “Survivor” changed TV forever by becoming a smash hit — in the middle of the summer. Previously, from about June until September, networks mostly aired repeats, or shows they wanted to throw away. People turned off their TVs and went outside. That’s not possible any more, as this summer there are more than 20 reality series that will air on network and cable channels. And this summer, there are a bunch I want to watch.

I’m most looking forward to “Project Runway 3,” although I have fear in my heart because season two just ended in March. The show has been spectacular in both its first and second seasons, but rushing to produce and air a third season so quickly could dilute its powers (see “The Apprentice” for an example). But at least I’ll be able to get my weekly dose of Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum.

The other show I can’t wait to watch again is “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.” Besides the fact that Kathy is often hysterical in her celebrity criticism and self-deprecation, the first season of the show was like being invited into her living room to hang out with her, and that’s not a bad way to spend a Tuesday evening.

I’m least looking forward to “Big Brother.” And that’s not because I’m not a fan: I watch the show obsessively (although I’m not one of those lovable freaks who watches the live feeds from inside the house). I’m least looking forward to it because, for three months, it’s all-consuming. Keeping track of the alliances, the betrayals, and the stuff they don’t show on TV but people write about online takes a lot of time, never mind the three hours that air every week.

This season will feature all-stars, which is also cause for concern. Part of the beauty of “Big Brother” is that it introduces new people we love to hate every year, and a big part of the fun is learning who is amazing and who is scum. In addition, since everyone has played the game before, there will need to be a number of twists to keep them on their toes, and the twists are usually the least interesting part of “Big Brother.”

Gael says: Project Runway” also tops my list of summer shows — it's the only summer reality show for which I'm setting a season pass on my TiVo. Besides, uh, the third season of "Bridezillas," which premieres June 11 on WE. I can't help it, I'm addicted to the travails of those crazy, demanding brides. I feel like creating a drinking game for it — drink if the bride remortages her home to pay for her wedding, hangs up on a vendor, insults her groom — you get the idea.

I'll check out "The Contender" too when it returns in July. Last season I only watched 1-2 episodes, but readers have gone so nuts for this show that I feel it deserves another shot. I remember from the episodes I saw that it bothered me that the boxers' little children were watching their daddies get bloodied. Executive producer Sylvester Stallone, however, has said that to him, the family involvement was paramount. Maybe, but my dad was a Marine, and I'm glad I didn't have to actually witness him getting shot at.

I might also give NBC's "Treasure Hunters" (premieres June 18) a shot. The show sounds a bit like "The Amazing Race." Ten teams solve mental and physical challenges, including deciphering codes, on the hunt for a treasure.

And although I know many of our readers love them some "Fear Factor" (June 13 premiere), I am way too squeamish to tune in to that kind of bug-centric torture. I shy away from "CSI" because of the squirm-inducing autopsy scenes; I'm certainly not going to watch gross-outs that I know are real.

Q: As a hearing impaired person, I noticed that there are no disabled contestants in any of the reality TV shows. Why?    —Michael

A: They have appeared on some shows.

, a deaf woman, was on the Amazon season of "Survivor." , who appeared on "Survivor Vanuatu," had one leg amputated just below the knee due to a rare cancer called Synovial Sarcoma. And the winner of the very first season of "Big Brother" was , a wheelchair basketball star who'd lost his left leg to cancer.

I'm betting readers can remember some other disabled contestants — if so, send us a note.    —G.F.C.

Q: Will the Fox Reality network be creating any original reality shows?    —DKMI

A: They will, but not many. Although FOX Reality began as a cable channel that mostly recycled old reality shows, including “American Idol,” it’s moving toward creating original programming. The network has aired series that were produced for other networks but were killed before airing or after airing just a few episodes, like CBS’ “The Will.”

FOX Reality already airs a daily original production called “Reality Remix” that sort of recaps the latest happenings on reality shows. While it’s hosted by former MTV VJ Kennedy, it’s not exactly as snarky or witty as “The Soup” or “Best Week Ever.”

Recently, the network announced that, this fall, it will produce and air an original reality series called “My Bare Lady.” As its title suggests, the three-hour series follows porn stars who try to get jobs as stage actors in London. FOX Reality is producing it along with UK production company Zig Zag Productions, which will air the show elsewhere in the world.    —A.D.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is's Television Editor. is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.