Wondering about how a certain reality show pulled something off? Have a question about a certain contestant?
Whether it's "Survivor," "American Idol," "The Apprentice," "Real World" or another show, . Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, MSNBC.com's Television Editor, and Andy Dehnart, creator of ,will try to answer them.
Before you send in your question, — you may be able to get your answer right away.
Q: I hope you can answer this one! Why are Rob and Amber back again on "Amazing Race All-Stars"? Hasn't their 15 minutes of fame ended 2 hours ago? There were so many memorable players like the hippies, the wrestlers, the circus clowns for instance. How were they selected? —Aniiqa, Calgary
Andy says: I, too, wish their time on my television set was over. In a recap after the first episode, that when Rob is on the show, "I want to get in my car, set the cruise control to 70 mph, open the door, and dangle my face out so it can drag along the pavement and distract me from the pain I feel when I have to watch him." And that's not much of an exaggeration.
However, I understand why they're on the all-star season: because of people like me (who despise their presence) and people who love them (and despise people like me). Besides creating drama for fans, they also do so on the show, as we've already seen; Rob picked a fight with another team member at an airport just, he told us, to annoy the guy.
But is that kind of behavior "all-star" racing? Some nicer teams, including the hippies and winners Chip and Kim, have publicly discussed their disappointment about not being approached for the show. But Bertram van Munster, the executive producer and co-creator of "The Amazing Race," that the teams were selected because "character-wise, they're all-stars in our book."
In other words, they're the most controversial, most engaging, or most annoying teams. We may hate Romber, but that's exactly the point.
Gael says: I think I speak for a large contingent of fans when I say that I really wish Rob and Amber hadn't been chosen. There's a part of me that just thinks it isn't fair, that they've had their chances, over and over again, and there's another part that is plain sick of seeing their cocky gameplay.
But there's a part of me that says, even though I personally don't care for them as players, they're pretty excellent at the game, as witnessed by their track record coming in first at the pit stops so far. And who would I have put in their place? My favorite missing team is B.J. and Tyler, Team Hippie, and is it really fair for them to compete again when they already won the million? This could get into a huge argument about what's really fair, and should one expect reality shows to be fair, but really, the point is moot. As Andy points out, Rob and Amber are as close as reality-show teams get to "celebrities," so the show knows they'll help pull in ratings.
Q: Why doesn’t any couple from "The Bachelor" ever work out? Is it the timing? Or people not fully fully evaluated to determine the level of commitment? Wasn’t Lorenzo also seen out and about with other women in NY? —Leanna, New Mexico
A: Andy says: On the surface, this question seems pretty easy to answer: It’s a reality show! Producers select suitors for drama first and compatibility second, and the couple meets with cameras and lights everywhere—never mind the other suitors who are competing for the bachelor or bachelorette’s attention. It’s a crazy scenario and one that doesn’t seem conducive to the formation of a life-long relationship.
But on second thought, a lot of healthy relationships are born in situations that are similarly weird, even if the circumstances are different. Having potential suitors screened and background-checked by a television network and its lawyers seems safer than meeting a stranger in a bar or online. And many things can affect a growing relationship, from societal pressure to the influence of family members, friends, and colleagues.
There is another factor: “Bachelor” couples have to stay apart after filming finishes and the show begins airing, so the outcome isn’t spoiled for viewers. That means that, immediately after meeting and (perhaps) falling in love, the couple is apart in the prime of their relationship. Then again, there are many long-distance relationships that survive and thrive, so why don’t these?
Thus, I’m not really sure why “Bachelor” don’t last. Maybe the show has the same track record as non-televised relationships, it’s just that we’re scrutinizing these more.
Gael says: I know that a lot of "Bachelor" couples blame the forced time spent apart, but I think it's more than that. I rarely see real chemistry between the couples on the show. It's difficult to find a partner even in real life, and I'll be blunt in saying that a lot of the people applying for "Bachelor" aren't in it for the right reasons...if a reality show has "right reasons."
Do you think women would flock to the show if the Bachelor was just Joe Middle Class, not a prince or a doctor or an NFL quarterback? Most of them are in it for less-than-pure reasons, and I think the fake romantic atmosphere of the show fools them into thinking they're in love. And do you think the men would do the show if the Bachelorettes weren't awfully young and mostly gorgeous? It's a fantasy on both ends, and when the cameras shut off, the problems pile on.
Generally the woman the Bachelor chooses is all but forced to give up her home and job to move to where he is, since he has some high-powered job and hers is considered less important. These women, often very young and from small towns, may be uncomfortable with giving up their support system, their family, everything they're familiar with, to cling to a man they barely know. Even a very rich man's life isn't all rose-petal-strewn beds in fantasy suites.
I also suspect that the fame strewn on the Bachelor (or the Bachelorette) makes him (or her) cocky. They get a lot of flirty attention after they do the show, which helps them realize that there are a lot of fish in the sea. I suspect a lot of them are less willing to stay with the person they chose on the show when they're suddenly surrounded by new faces. Call me cynical, but that's what I think.
Speaking of "The Bachelor," after Prince Lorenzo and his choice, Jen, broke up, we reported that he was dating runner-up Sadie. According to the New York Post, . An anonymous source claims Lorenzo thought Sadie was Miss Innocent but she turned out to be a party girl, but as always, take anything anonymous sources say with the requisite cynicism.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is MSNBC.com's Television Editor. is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.