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Is it all bad? Reality television that inspires

Published: Thursday, April 18 2013 4:25 p.m. MDT

Emily Sawyer, a big fan of "The Biggest Loser," eventually determined to lose weight at home rather than on TV. After trying out for "The Biggest Loser" five times, Sawyer decided she couldn’t rely on a TV show to help her get healthy.

“I think that by doing it at home it’s helped because on the show they are in such a controlled environment,” Sawyer said. “I’m glad I’m doing it at home because once I hit my goal, I already know what it’s like to be at a fast-food restaurant and to have to make the choice between the salad and the hamburger. It’s not going to slap me in the face.”

'America's Got Talent'

Many of the reality TV shows geared toward family audiences center around a talent competition.

While “American Idol” stands as one of the most popular reality shows of all time, “America’s Got Talent” focuses on the inspirational stories of the contestants without the occasional exposing of quirky people who lack talent.

Ali Christensen Wilde, along with her sister Christina Christensen, both from Idaho Falls, Idaho, competed in the top 10 of “America’s Got Talent” in 2010. The two sisters both have cystic fibrosis, a disease affecting the entire body, specifically the lungs.

“The main reason we went on the show is to share our message with people,” Wilde said. “Our message is that you can do anything you set your mind to despite any illness or weakness.”

Wilde and Christensen faced obstacles during their performances.

“As a singer (cystic fibrosis) really affects your lungs, so sometimes you have to clear your throat in the middle of a song or lower the microphone for a second,” Wilde said. “However, singing is also the greatest exercise you can do for your lungs.”

According to Wilde, “America’s Got Talent” is true to the contestant's lives.

“They literally just followed us around and saw our lives without trying to drum up any drama,” Wilde said. “They just wanted to see the person and their talent and that’s what it was all about.”

“America’s Got Talent” isn’t set up for one specific category of talent, creating a less competitive atmosphere.

“It’s the only show that has different acts and I got to meet all kinds of people,” Wilde said. “There was an act called ‘Fighting Gravity’ and it was just a bunch of college guys putting on a glow in the dark act.”

Wilde enjoyed getting to know her fellow contestants on the show, but she is particularly grateful for the producers and executive producers as well as Piers Morgan, one of the judges.

Known as the “mean judge,” people are surprised to hear he was Wilde’s favorite. He left a remarkable impression upon the young singer.

At one point during the show, the top 10 contestants were able to have a dinner with the judges, which was filmed. Before the cameras started rolling, Morgan came out to personally talk to the different contestants and get to know them a little better.

“I kind of grew attached to him,” Wilde said. “When we got kicked off, we got to say goodbye to him and he told us we were his favorite act, not because we were the most talented, but because there was a sparkle he could see in us.”

Since being on the show, Wilde and Christensen have raised millions of dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through their performances.

“I still have people who message me or email me and thank me for inspiring them,” Wilde said.

'The Amazing Race'

Another popular reality TV show that has built a family audience is “The Amazing Race.”

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