Last week, it was announced that the Emmy Awards would be creating a new category for its next awards show: Best Reality TV Host.  Usually, I’d be against the Emmys adding more awards – the Emmys are boring enough with the amount of awards they have now.  But, I think I speak for all reality TV fans when I say that this category is long overdue.  The reality TV host is an underrated position.  A good host can make a show seem greater than the sum of its parts.  A terrible host can bring the proceedings to a stand still (see: On the Lot’s Adrianna Costa).  It’s about time we honored the brave men and women who lead us on our reality TV journeys.  In honor of this new Emmy category, I thought I’d chime in with my personal reality TV host rankings, complete with the five people who I think should be nominated for the Best Reality TV Host Emmy.

Before we get to the top 15 reality TV hosts, I’d like to get this out of the way:

Last Place: Julie Chen, Big Brother

OK, are we all good now?  Moving on.  Now, seeing as I don’t religiously watch every reality TV show, some of these rankings are based on my brief exposure to these different hosts.  Hey, nobody’s perfect. If you take umbrage with this list, comment below and let your voice be heard. 

The “Works in Progress” Division

#15 – Laila Ali and Hulk Hogan, American Gladiators

Laila Ali isn’t a professional host just yet, but I have high hopes for her.  She’s a charming woman, and as American Gladiators enters its second season I expect her to improve greatly.  But, the only reason these two are on the list is because of the great Hulk Hogan.  The Hulkster is a natural entertainer, and even during the most inane and stupid interviews, Hulk still makes me smile. 

The “Gets the Job Done” Division:

#14 – Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars

Bergeron is a hosting veteran.  There’s nothing flashy about what he does.  The Berg can conduct an interview, navigate a live broadcast and makes a lot of lame jokes. 

#13 – Mark L. Wahlberg, The Moment of Truth

The mere fact that he manages to stay somewhat professional during The Moment of Truth (aka “Satan’s Spawn”) is incredible.  Despite the show being an affront to mankind, Wahlberg is solid.

#12 – Jeff Foxworthy, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader

People like Jeff Foxworthy.  Even though he’s not the funniest comedian on the planet, he’s gotten by on his charm, something he does on every episode of 5th Grader. 

#11 – Wayne Brady, Don’t Forget the Lyrics

He manages to make a show that should be a train wreck a somewhat enjoyable experience. 

The Former Model Division:

#10 – Tyra Banks, America’s Next Top Model

Now, I’m not a big Tyra fan (she generally annoys the hell out of me), but there seems to be a large population of viewers who love her.  You can’t argue with that.  She is uniquely qualified for this hosting gig, and she’s made the most of it, parleying it into her own talk show. 

#9 – Heidi Klum, Project Runway

Despite all her shortcomings, Klum is just so damn adorable, isn’t she?  And really hot. 

#8 – Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef

Padma is a smart, attractive and worldly woman.  That’s exactly what I want from a host. 

The “Show Could Only Exist with Them” Division:

#7 – Gordon Ramsay, Hell’s Kitchen

Gordon can often be insufferable, but Hell’s Kitchen could not exist without him.  It’s the rare show where the host is the main source of entertainment.

#6 – Donald Trump, The Apprentice

The Donald is just so over-the-top and absurd that he makes great TV.  Again, the show couldn’t and wouldn’t exist without him.

The Emmy Nominees:

#5 – Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal

I think this ranking may surprise some people, but hear me out.  He has the most difficult hosting job on TV for someone that doesn’t preside over a live broadcast.  There is a ridiculous amount of dead time and contestant interaction on Deal or No Deal, and Howie manages to make the dead time bearable.  Not an easy task.

#4 – Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race

Phil is one of my favorites.  His voice overs manage to be dramatic and entertaining, but really, he doesn’t do all that much.  Just on sheer personality, I still give him a nomination.

#3 – Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance

I can’t stress enough how difficult it is to find a host who thrives on live television.  She arrived on FOX for So You Think You Can Dance’s second season, and it was a great hire by FOX.  Cat is charming and even-keel, maintaining an easy rapport with the show’s judges while simultaneously interacting with the young dancers.  Watch the show this summer – you’ll appreciate how well she does her job.

#2 – Ryan Seacrest, American Idol

Love him or hate him, he’s the best at what he does – navigating the perils of live television.  His interactions with Simon Cowell are consistently funny and entertaining and he does an especially exceptional job with Idol’s eliminations.  Just look at how delicately he handled Alaina Whitaker’s tearful elimination last week.

#1 – Jeff Probst, Survivor

The grand daddy of reality TV hosts.  He’s one of the firsts and has always been the best.  Witness his incredible ability to wring information out of the castaways on Survivor’s weekly tribal councils.  What he does takes great insight.  He’s also quite funny at times and is one of the only hosts able to make real connections with his contestants – everyone wants to please Jeff.  It would be a shame to not reward Probst with the first ever Reality TV Host Emmy.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)

Oscar Dahl

Senior Writer, BuddyTV