Has Washington D.C. Shaken Its Boring Reputation?

Washington D.C., based reality TV shows surge in last year.

ByABC News
August 5, 2010, 8:24 PM

Aug. 6, 2010— -- Reality television has invaded our Nation's Capital. In the last year alone, Washington, D.C., has played host to "The Real World," "Top Chef," "DC Cupcakes" and now the power-hungry White House-crashing cast members of "The Real Housewives of D.C."

It has been over 18 years since the original mainstream reality TV series aired. On May 28, 1992 MTV's "The Real World" made its debut, putting seven strangers in a New York City house and letting them live their lives on camera.

So why has it taken D.C. 18 years to get reality based TV set in its town?

"The question is not why now, but why not earlier?" asks Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.

Thompson says he is not surprised by this surge in Washington based programming, adding that it's an "identifiable place." However, he admits that D.C. has suffered from a reputation of being a "9-5 city," where most people live in Virginia and Maryland and commute in for work.

Washington Post television critic Tom Shales says this increase in programming could be as simple as a change in administration.

"I think that for several years there wasn't much interest in Washington because Bush wasn't a very fascinating, glamorous figure. He was just kind of boring. But then with a young, dynamic, history-making president, people are more interested in Washington," Shales said.

Shales also pointed out in the last "quarter-century," there has been an abundance of scandals that have created fascination with the city. Most recently, "Real Housewives" cast members Michaele and Tariq Salahi caused an international uproar by famously gate-crashing the White House State Dinner last year.

Scandals aside, there are always cupcakes. Georgetown Cupcake, to be specific.

Highlighted on the reality based TLC show "DC Cupcakes," the bakery is owned by Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis, who say they believe their series "shows a different side of the city." Most people come to Washington to see "the monuments," they claim, and shows like theirs give tourists more options.