Best Political Reality-Show Star (2009)

Jared Polis, Freshman Year on CNN

Like most reality shows, CNN's Freshman Year features a contrived premise that should stir up tension and drama. Here, it's two totally different members of the House of Representatives going about their daily lives: Representative Jared Polis, the openly gay, extremely wealthy Boulder Democrat, and Jason Chaffetz, a conservative Utah father of three who sleeps on a cot in his congressional office to save money. The show is filmed by the congressmen themselves, using shaky handheld cameras, and highlighted by bad sound, weird music and unbelievably boring plot lines. And yet, as with other reality shows, once you start watching, it's difficult to stop staring. In episode 5, Polis zooms in on the blisters on his feet, a moment that beats his munching of soggy tacos from Episode 4 for pure TV magic, while Chaffetz leg wrestles Stephen Colbert and lists to the songs on his iPod. We can't wait to see what happens — or doesn't — next.

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