It recently occurred to me—while watching a Muppets movie—that there is a noticeable different between television variety shows from the time when The Muppet Show was on TV and today. Back then, variety shows with song, dance and miscellaneous acts tended to have a stable company performing regularly, and drew in guest performers. Sometimes the guests were “new” potential stars, being “introduced” through the show, but as much or more often they were established professional entertainers of some sort. Today, in marked contrast, the traditional “variety” shows (and specials) are mostly gone, but in their place are “reality” shows framed around competitions. These are sometimes exclusively singing or dance oriented, or might be open to a variety of “talent show” acts beyond just song and dance. These new shows often have judges, either supposed industry “experts” or entertainment celebrities, who pass judgment on the competing acts. These differences between similar television shows of these eras actually matches up quite closely with the “market” logic of the present “neoliberal” era. Now, the shows have “elite” judges and a bunch of rabble competing for some sort of recognition or prize, their being too little reward allocated for all performers. There is no job security for the contestants, who have to compete against each other–the judges standing apart from that competition.