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Reality Check: Salty and Sweet in 2007 Reality TV

Looking back over reality television this year, it seems safe to say that there were as many salty moments as there were sweet.

For instance, what could have been sweeter than Helio walking away the winner of "Dancing with the Stars"? The man with the grin that stretched across the stage managed to trot his way to the mirrorball trophy with as much class and style as with fancy footwork.

Photo Essay: Click here for photos from the 'Dancing' finale.

And while the magnificent Melinda Doolittle didn't take the "American Idol" title, my enduring memory from the season is that the two who battled it out for top billing — Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks — were a couple of sweet kids with undeniable talent.

Unless, of course, we're counting memories from what took place during the audition rounds. (Am I the only one still haunted by the oh-so-salty Ian Bernardo?)

Yet Sabra, the winner of "So You Think You Can Dance," more than made up for any and all Bernardos. The lithe lady had only been dancing for four years when she beat out inarguable excellence (Danny), perfect technique (Lacey) and a whirling dervish of a turner (Neil) through solid performances and humble hard work.

Far from Sabra on the sweet scale was a player on "Survivor: Fiji." After making a pact with Yau-Man that he would give him immunity in exchange for a new truck, Dreamz went back on his word, justifying that with some hogwash about how that was the way you played the game. (If I had a penny for every time someone on "Survivor" or "Big Brother" uttered some version of that line — well, I'd have more than all the winners combined.)

Speaking of "Big Brother" and a certain lack of sweetness, it was Dick Donato who walked off with the eighth season's $500,000 prize. Managing to mend his relationship with his 21-year-old daughter, Danielle (a tender reality show storyline if ever there was one), and still not elicit a moment of sympathy couldn't have been easy, but somehow Dick managed to do it.

While he also managed to keep things reasonably entertaining — with his bullying, flirting (including an oddly stomach-turning session with a visiting Janelle) and overall inappropriateness, sweet he was not.

Then there were the players on the MTV and VH1 reality dating shows including Tila Tequila, a tiny bisexual Vietnamese woman with no discernable talent from the VH1 hit "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila" and the entire casts of "I Love New York" and "Rock of Love."

While they were all ostensibly looking for love, I think they were all misguided romantics or fame-seeking dilettantes who displayed few, if any, moments of sweetness.

Yet it was the most saccharine of the dating shows that showed us the saltiest behavior of all. I'm talking, of course, about how "The Bachelor," Brad Womack, took each of his final girls to the fantasy bedroom suite only to later reject them one by one.

With all this evidence, I guess I have to face that there was more salty than sweet in reality television in 2007. But I'm thinking that instead of complaining, I should focus on how grateful I am that the year didn't bring an Ian Bernardo dating reality show.

Personally, I can't think of anything saltier than that.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores now.

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