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He green-lighted Netflix hits “Love is Blind,” “Queer Eye,” and “Cheer.” Here’s how he picks reality TV concepts.

For making Netflix a go-to platform for nonscripted shows including “Love is Blind,” “Queer Eye,” and “Cheer,” Brandon Riegg is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2020.

He green-lighted Netflix hits “Love is Blind,” “Queer Eye,” and “Cheer.” Here’s how he picks reality TV concepts.
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In the first months of 2020, streaming giant Netflix began dominating yet another realm of content: unscripted original programming. Love Is Blind, a reality show on which contestants dated and got engaged without ever meeting each other face-to-face, spawned a fervent subculture of viewers online; docuseries Cheer propelled a tiny junior college’s cheerleading squad to national fame; and social media competition The Circle revealed the ways people connect and deceive each other on the internet. All three shows were created under Brandon Riegg, who founded Netflix’s unscripted originals and acquisitions division in 2016. “Because we had no precedent of what worked and what didn’t [at Netflix], we felt emboldened to take risks,” says Riegg, who allowed his producers to try new show concepts, adjust episode run times, and even control the release schedules of shows. Riegg was also the force behind the successful, heartfelt reboot of Queer Eye and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a show that “essentially teaches you how to fold socks,” he says, but is made bingeable by its charming host. Riegg’s strategy has been to produce two or three different series in a popular reality-TV category to see what works. With dating, for example, he produced Dating Around (a moderately successful “follow doc” that captured real people going on first dates), Love Is Blind, and Too Hot To Handle (a more traditional, high-drama dating competition along the lines of The Bachelor and Britain’s Love Island, with a slight twist). He’s now setting his sights on real estate, home makeovers, and weddings.