Reality shows are often light on reality. The manufactured drama of so much reality television seems at odds with hip-hop, an artform that prizes authenticity. This might be one reason why it took so long for a rap competition show to become a breakout hit.

Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow isn’t just a hit, it is one of the best television shows of the year, precisely because it embraces authenticity in a television format that so often feels completely fabricated.

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