In the ongoing discussion about reality shows and on how success compared to real world success - I have some thoughts.
It seems that actual real-world experience is a benefit. Of course successful shows attract that as we are starting to see with shows such as "American Idol". (This is not to suggest that Kelly Clarkson, for example, did not have real world experience, in fact I think that's part of why she has been so successful.) Their success in launching careers attracts, over time, people with a higher level of experience. One of the things I always liked about "Nashville Star" was that by requiring that you have a song that is unreleased it by definition attracts people who have either been writing their own stuff, or working with enough people in the business to have been given rights to a song.
A while back there was some concern with the Grammys that things had gotten a bit mainstream. If I recall the solution was that after the initial voting, they had more focused groups involved with final voting. The theory was that the large group voting was causing the mainstream effect. I wonder if a similar thing happens with these shows, so that the people who win are often not the people that folks feel strongly about. And so the second and third runner ups get better post-show success because the people pulling for them were really committed to it.
Of course the other alternative if that the second and third runner ups are caught in a slower burning frenzy so that they have better opportunities to make good choices.
I-used-to-be-sorta-famous shows aside, there was tons of talk about Miranda Lambert (second runner up from season one of "Nashville Star") making a record deal that gave her a ton of creative control. I'm not so sure that that year's winner had the same choices. I also don't know if Buddy Jewell would have been helped by that but it seems like it might.
(The other interesting thing I learned from the NY Magazine article was that reality show contestants where sex is, you know, encouraged are required to be tested for STDs. Whereas the Bravo pool, just tells the contestants not to have sex for a month.)
Thanks to ALOTT5MA for the link.