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Making it real We scrutinize logos to see how art reflects the gimmick that is reality TV
Hollywood is not bashful about generating new reality shows. One cooking show, one dancing show, one scantily-clad-twentysomething-weirdos-living-under-one-roof show beget three, four, five or more. Network, cable, online, TV reality doesn't bite; it spreads. So the question arises: How does "Flavor of Love" distinguish itself from "The Bachelor"? Or how does "Hell's Kitchen" stand out from "Top Chef"? One way is through art — the shows' logo designs provide a small window into who or what these productions think they are. This matrix compares logos in terms of how they are designed and how successfully the designs are executed.
— Jonathon Berlin, Tribune staff writer
" American Idol"
7 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, WFLD-Ch. 32
For a show designed to produce stars, the identity follows suit, mimicking a neon marquee. The script type glows with a slight halo. And the "A" forms a star. Smart and simple.
"Flavor of Love"
Various times, VH1
Perhaps a case in which the quality of the logo outdoes the quality of the show, in which women compete for rapper Flavor Flav's affections. This logo could dangle from one of Flavor Flav's famous chains. The gilded finish and blingy clustering of words perfectly capture the campy personality of the show.
"America's Next Top Model"
7 p.m., Wednesday, WGN-Ch. 9
This is a simple typographic logo with a few smart touches. The letters are squeezed very close to one another. This gives a classic-looking font a modern feel. The ascenders and descenders are extended, mirroring the lanky contestants
"The Real World"
9 p.m., Wednesday, MTV
This is the true story of a classic reality show with a really classic logo. The hand lettering feels "real." The letters aren't on a straight line, and each character is different. Notice the different E's and L's. A simple idea done really well.
9 p.m., Wednesday, Bravo
The tension of these plucky, competitive chefs flows into the show's logo, where the butcher knife stabs its way upward. It's a good thing that the knife points up, not down, like a slasher flick. The simple typography, the all-capitals and extra letter-spacing give the logo a military feel.
"The Amazing Race"
It's amazing what a little extra space between letters can do. The spaced-out letters create the feeling of motion, like the couples running around on the show.
9 p.m., Monday, WLS-Ch. 7
The wedding ring is an obvious touch for the show that seeks to find a mate for a London heartthrob. It looks close to what the "o" would look like. The word "The" done up in wedding script is also nice.
Putting the logo on a tilt, like a runway, is a clever idea, but it's not executed nearly as well as the garments sewn by the fashion designers on the show. The logo grows out horizontally and vertically, more like a plane than a runway. The show's season number is attached with a safety pin where finer stitching would have helped.
7 p.m., Thursday, WBBM- Ch. 2
Like those poor adventurers on the show, the logo is contained on an island. The wood-cut typography and images add to the all-natural imagery. But don't be deceived — everything about this is finely tuned.
"The Biggest Loser"
7 p.m., Tuesday, WMAQ-Ch. 5
What a great name for a show. Using the measuring tape to suck in the words is clever for a diet contest, but the primary colors and cartoony lettering effects don't match stylistically with the tape measure.
The funniest thing about this logo is the difference between the size of The Donald, who looms skyscraper-like over the city, and the teeny-tiny apprentice, making a mad dash away from him. The skyline, Donald, apprentice and metallic font are probably too much for one logo to bear. Designer, you're fired.
8 p.m., Tuesday, WFLD-Ch. 32
The Devilish Hell font matches the personality of host Gordon Ramsay in this cooking competition show. The metallic sheen makes each letter look like a medieval torture device, a reminder of what it's like to watch the show..
Oprah's Big Give"
7 p.m., Sunday, WLS-Ch. 7
Oprah understands branding but comes up short here. Nothing in the logo explains a show about people trying to give away money to good causes. The word "Oprah" is really small, the word "big" is really skinny and the word "give" is huge. All three don't add up to much. The overlapping letter G's subtly imply giving, but it's not enough.
8 p.m., Tuesday, WBBM- Ch. 2
This lowbrow reality show gets a lowbrow logo. The house icon, with only an outline, implies a see-through world where contestants live, but is not executed very well. The letters are squished and hard to read.
"Beauty and the Geek"
7 p.m., Tuesday, WGN-Ch. 9
There is some decent thinking here: Use different fonts to represent the two types of people on the show. But the geeky font looks more Greek than geek, and the beauty font lacks refinement. Maybe the show should be called "Cheesy and the Greek."