"Discover 25 Insane Reality Competitions You Never Knew Existed (with Pictures!)"
Reality television has produced many successful and groundbreaking shows, such as "The Bachelor" and "Survivor," but among those are dozens of short-lived and long-forgotten imitators that were truly bizarre (and not always in a good way).
Fox tried to replicate "The Bachelor's" format with its own show "Joe Millionaire" in 2003. It featured contestants vying for the affections of a man they thought was a millionaire but was actually an average Joe. Evan Marriott, the star of the show, continues to apologize to the deceived women even a decade later.
Before "Finding Prince Charming" on Logo, Bravo had "Boy Meets Boy" in 2003. The gay "Bachelor" had a cruel twist - half of the suitors were straight men posing as gay in order to win money.
Monica Lewinsky hosted Fox's "Mr. Personality" in 2003. With a premise of one woman surrounded by 20 men wearing metallic face masks, the show was nothing short of creepy.
NBC's "Average Joe" (2003-05) had ordinary-looking men competing for the heart of a beautiful woman. At the end of the season, she was given the option to choose between her average-looking suitor and a more conventionally attractive one. In every season, the woman chose the handsome one.
Fox had a recurring premise with "Paradise Hotel" and its successor "Forever Eden," which allowed contestants to stay in the "Eden" resort for years at a time.
"The Swan" on Fox in 2004-05 took two women each week and gave them complete surgical makeovers in an attempt to "better" their lives. The show was criticized by critics from the beginning, but the most outrage came from forcing the women to compete in a beauty pageant at the end of the season.
Showtime aired "American Candidate" in 2004, a satirical competition show that parodied the entire political process. The concept of a reality TV show producing a legitimate political candidate may have seemed like a joke at the time, but it now appears to be quite prophetic.
In 2005, Fox aired "Who's Your Daddy?" which was perhaps one of the most exploitative shows in television history. This show turned a woman's search for her real father into a game, offering cash to men if they could convince her that she was their daughter. The first episode was so controversial that the show was immediately cancelled.
Another oddball professional competition that aired on Bravo from 2007-2010 was "Shear Genius." This show had stylists compete against each other to see whose haircuts could best improve a model's appearance.
Bravo also aired "Top Design" from 2007-2008, which was the only "Project Runway"/"Top Chef" spinoff that made sense. "Top Design" utilized the familiar format to assess contestants' interior design capabilities, but unfortunately, the show only lasted for two seasons on Bravo.
"The Devil Wears Prada" is infamous - no one thinks that Miranda Priestly's treatment of her employees should be copied. However, The CW's unscripted department disagreed and took on this concept as a game show. "Stylista" aired in 2008 and involved young adults debasing themselves for an entry-level job at Elle magazine.
"The Bachelor" set on a farm - this is how we can describe The CW's "Farmer Wants a Wife" from 2008. The show brought nothing new to the dating competition scene, as women competed for the heart of a country boy and were expected to provide manual labor to prove their worthiness.
Lastly, VH1's "Scream Queens" from 2008-2010 aimed to find the next big horror movie star. Contestants had to complete challenges such as screaming, pretending to be possessed by the devil, and begging for their lives. The winner of season 1, Tanedra Howard, received a role in "Saw VI" as a reward for her efforts.
ABC's "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" (2008-10) sent contestants to Japan to compete on the notoriously insane game show "Majide." The CW's "13: Fear Is Real" (2009) leveraged its contestants' darkest fears with challenges like being buried alive or left alone in the woods at night for a measly prize of ,666. MTV's "The Phone" (2009) attempted to throw unsuspecting contestants into action movie plots but lasted just six episodes. ABC's "Skating With the Stars" (2010) tried to capitalize on the success of "Dancing With the Stars" but ultimately failed to capture audiences with the addition of ice skating. E!'s "Bridalplasty" (2010) was widely panned for its combination of the competition format of "Big Brother" and plastic surgery makeovers. Bravo's "Work of Art" (2010-11) attempted to turn visual art into a reality competition, with one contestant rumored to have developed his entire persona as an elaborate performance art piece.
Bravo's "Platinum Hit" failed to achieve the same success as "Project Runway" and other similar art-form competition shows. Hosted by Jewel and Kara DioGuardi, the show aimed to discover talented songwriters, but despite airing 10 episodes, it failed to produce any noteworthy songs.
ABC's "The Glass House" saw 14 contestants residing in a house while viewers voted for who was to be evicted and who would win a grand prize of $250,000. While the show gained controversy because CBS claimed it was a replica of their show "Big Brother," low ratings contributed heavily to only one season airing.
"Splash" aired in 2013 and involved a professional diving competition in which 10 celebrities participated. The show was based on a Dutch format and coached by Greg Louganis, but despite its unique premise, it suffered low ratings and numerous injuries, leading to cancellation after one season. Its airing was close to another similar show, Fox's "Stars in Danger: The High Dive," which may have contributed to its lack of success.
ABC's "Whodunnit?" was formatted as a murder mystery dinner party where 13 contestants played detective and attempted to solve a murder mystery. Players were 'killed' each week, leading to a whittling down of contestants until the finale, where the mystery was finally resolved.
The CW's "Capture" aimed to become the next "Hunger Games" by throwing teams of two into the woods for an elaborate game of tag. However, the contestants' deprivation of sleep, shelter, and food resulted in bizarre competitions that were more focused on survival than the game itself.
"I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" was Fox's take on a dating competition show, but with a twist: a male lead with a slight resemblance to the British prince. The show was deemed ridiculous because of its entirely unbelievable premise and its over-the-top execution.
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