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Hot summer trend: Self-help TV shows

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
VH1's "You're Cut Off" is just one of the new reality self-help shows debuting this summer.
VH1's "You're Cut Off" is just one of the new reality self-help shows debuting this summer.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Summer time has become destination TV for self-help reality shows
  • "Losing It With Jillian Michaels" and "You're Cut Off" debut this summer
  • TV blogger says self-help shows lend themselves to summer viewing
  • Life coach says summer is a season that "offers possibilities"
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(CNN) -- Summer is a time for grilling, relaxing and apparently getting your life together -- at least on television.

Those lazy, hazy days this year are featuring reality shows aimed at everything from weight loss to ego adjustments.

Programs such as NBC's "Losing It With Jillian Michaels" and "Breakthrough With Tony Robbins," as well as VH1's "You're Cut Off" and "Bridal Boot Camp" are part of a hot trend offering audiences plenty of self-help viewing along with their lemonade and barbecues.

"During the summer, people are more tuned into those types of pursuits," said Deborah King, author of "Truth Heals: What You Hide Can Hurt You." "[Viewers] are thinking more about health, how to feel better and how to feel healthier so they are more inclined to go that route."

Dog-day television viewing has changed in the past decade, based a great deal on the success of the reality program "Survivor," which helped kick off the reality TV craze when it debuted in May 2000.

Before CBS premiered the series, which drops contestants in the wilderness to compete against each other for $1 million, summertime viewing was pretty blah and standard, said Al Norton, who blogs about television at his site, Two Tivos to Paradise.

"It was only 10 or 15 years ago that summertime was all about reruns," Norton said. "I think there is a general feeling among viewers that your standards for what you are willing to watch are a little bit lower during the summer."

The self-help shows are also more conducive to viewers' TV habits in the warmer months as opposed to series such as "Lost" or "Fringe," where the audience is called upon to remember plots from week to week, Norton said.

"In general, the viewing audience is less in the summer because people are on vacation, the weather is nice and people are out. People aren't necessarily going to follow a show every week," he said. "Most of those self-help shows are pretty self-contained."

That means viewers can hop in and out of such shows, without missing a beat.

Check out an iReport review of "Losing It With Jillian Michaels"

Laura Baron hopes audiences do that for her new series. Baron serves as the life coach on VH1's new summer reality series "You're Cut Off," which bills itself as a "princess rehab" for "nine spoiled rotten princesses."

The women, who believe they have been chosen to participate in a show called "The Good Life," are moved into a home and forced to forgo all of the amenities they enjoyed in the real world.

Baron said people are looking to shed more than just heavy coats when the weather turns warmer.

"People are probably more open in the summer and looking at themselves," "When you are doing self-help in the winter when it's dreary outside, your journey is not as fulfilling. There is something about summer that offers possibilities."

Author King agreed and said such reality shows are also tapping into the viewing public's desire to improve their health and wellness, even if it's vicariously through watching others.

"I've seen the interest in such programming increase from year to year," said King. "It's something people are concerned about and focused on more and more."

 
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