The 32 Greatest Reality Shows of All Time - Must-Watch TV Series

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The First 10 Minutes of the Premiere Episode of 'The Real World' | MTV

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To discover what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real, seven random people were chosen to live together in a loft and have their lives taped. When it first aired in the summer of 1992, the most shocking aspect was that it was simply people's everyday lives being recorded. During their confessional interview, they argue, joke, and look in different directions. (From our current vantage point, it's shocking to think that people actually started being polite. If you revisit the first season, you might think you're watching an intellectual documentary. Long, drawn-out scenes give the characters time to develop and allow the seven strangers to thoughtfully discuss complex topics like racism, privilege, and coming out of the closet. From season two onward (and in every reality show since), contestants arrive knowing exactly what character they are playing, suggesting that the original housemates were the last seven guileless people in America. The tone was set by this show, but it's easy to overlook the fact that it had good intentions from the start. It's likely that the housemates now enter the house via a hot tub drain, that the cast members' parents have never known a time without The Real World, and that the show primarily exists as a triple-a league for The Challenge. But for that brief instant, it was real, and it was spectacular. —Dave Holmes

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Jeff Varner Reveals Zeke Smith Is Transgender on "Survivor"

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In 2000, CBS decided to film a reality show in which 16 random people were dropped onto an island and left to fend for themselves until they were voted off. The show became a phenomenon on American television. Survivor, a series that satisfied viewers' cravings for competition, survivalism, and a dash of voyeurism, had gained widespread attention by the end of its first few seasons, drawing in tens of millions of viewers. Many subsequent competition reality shows owe a debt to the groundwork laid in that first season. Competition reality shows popularized the idea of voting blocs, alliances, and (fill in the blank with the word that best describes Richard Hatch). And a million dollars was one of the most unimaginably lucrative prizes ever offered at the time. You only need to survive on an island for a little over a month while maintaining your wits and charm in order to earn the grand prize. Forty seasons and 20 years in, the franchise keeps evolving and succeeding. In spite of this, one thing remains true: nothing beats the excitement of hearing "the tribe has spoken." I quote: "Justin Kirkland

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The Bachelor: Clare Disses Juan Pablo

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It has been 18 years since The Bachelor first aired on television. Trista, the winner of the first season, is so well-known that she has inspired a legion of college freshmen to adopt her name. Since its 2002 debut, The Bachelor has attracted a steady stream of (mostly white) women and physically fit men to the Bachelor mansion, which resembles the nicest Olive Garden you'll ever visit. Five couples have tied the knot, eight are going strong, there have been babies, and Americans are drinking too much wine on Monday nights because of the show. The Bachelor is currently the gold standard for shows that are trying to save network television. The series (or one of its four spinoffs) is a regular part of the weekly schedule during a standard television year, sometimes taking up as much as five hours of airtime. As long as there are men and women willing to make out on television without any interest in making friends, then The Bachelor will have a future, and host Chris Harrison has been at the helm from the beginning. -JK

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Shangela vs. Mimi Imfurst, Battle of the Space Queens | Season 3 of "RuPaul's Drag Race"

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You can't call yourself a pop star unless you've hired Shangela and Willam to star in your music video, and Drag Queens serve boozy brunches at Dave and Buster's and read to children at public libraries. This is largely attributable to the success of RuPaul's Drag Race, which introduced the art of drag to a previously uninterested straight American audience. The show celebrates an art form that is more than worthy of a spot in television history, and it does so in a way that is both hilarious and deeply moving. If you watch too much reality TV, you might start to feel as though you're covered in a thin film of slime. While other shows may focus solely on messy verbal fisticuffs, Drag Race fills the void left by the British shows in which contestants try to out-nice one another while building elaborate bird's nests. The contestants on Drag Race are true artists, capable of producing clothing, makeup, and hairstyles that would blow the minds of even the most devoted fans. Additionally, they are well-versed in the art of the stinging retort and the creation of a memorable reality show showdown. Everything about it is flawless. Bruney, Gabrielle

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kim, people are actually passing away

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Kim Kardashian perfected the image that Paris Hilton had established, and she did so while being micromanaged by Hilton. The former assistant of Paris Hilton took the "famous for being famous" trope to new heights when she became famous thanks to a reality show based on a leaked sex tape. But our purpose today is not to evaluate the Kardashians' unprecedented influence on American popular culture. Our purpose here is to evaluate their namesake show, which, despite being eighteen seasons in, never ceases to astound and delight us with its dazzlingly myopic vapidity. There's something here for everyone, whether you're just here to hate-watch or you love seeing the sisters flaunt their wealth in Calabasas. No one can forget Kim's infamous snap take duck-face selfies before dropping Khloe off to serve 30 days in jail. Kourtney is joking while Kim is crying her eyes out. The evergreen prank calls from Scott. These episodes will live on forever in the annals of reality television, and our descendants will look back on them in an attempt to decipher some aspect of human nature that we don't fully comprehend ourselves. Sadly, I must suggest that the next time we send a Golden Record into space, we engrave the phrase "Kim, there are people who are dying" on it. Fasten onto it by clipping It has everything you could want, including some hilarious antics and some truly spectacular earrings. It will provide our extraterrestrial neighbors with all the information they need to better understand the human beings who once roamed this small blue planet. By Adrienne Westenfeld

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Kelly's Triumphant Finale

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Simon Cowell saw something big coming in 2002, when sparks flew over Kelly Clarkson's big hair. In its heyday, American Idol was the place to be to quickly gain a national audience, but that time has passed. Idol is a hugely successful reality show that has produced stars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, and Fantasia Barrino. The show's early success can be attributed to the formidable panel of judges (were Simon and Paula actually hateful?). Dissatisfied in Bed There's no way for us to find out In Season 2, there was a new, charismatic host named Ryan Seacrest, a heated argument over whether Clay or Ruben deserved to win, and a lot of arguing. That's the kind of election drama we're hoping for in 2020. In its prime, Idol served as both a reality singing competition and a mockery of those who thought they were talented but weren't. That level of offensiveness that everyone had to see is gone forever. -JK

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The 2021 Celebrity Bake Off Will Feature the Best of the Show So Far James McAvoy, KSI, Daisy Ridley, and others

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A reality show doesn't need a knock-down, drag-out interpersonal conflict to be successful, as demonstrated by The Great British Baking Show. No one will be hurling wine at each other; instead, you'll enjoy the peaceful thrill of a rural baking competition in which everyone is trying to beat their own record. That kind of supportive friendship makes for an environment where rivalries are kept at bay and, in fact, competitors frequently help one another out at the last minute. Don't discount Great British Baking Show just because you don't know anything about baking. After only two episodes, you'll be scolding the baker whose cake doesn't rise and the glassblower whose mirror glaze doesn't sparkle. Don't start the show without something sweet to eat; whether it's a cupcake, a pie, or even just a package of Oreos, everyone will appreciate it. Because you're going to need it. -AW

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The mother and her children can only afford one meal a day | WWYD

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Friends, I've got a show for you if you're not into high-concept reality shows or sleazy television drama. What Would You Do? on ABC. is like the mashed potatoes of reality shows, a soothing, sleepy ode to the joys of channel surfing This ongoing hidden camera series, narrated by the soothing tones of John Quiones, puts actors in questionable or illegal situations and records their reactions. The show sets up situations that beg for bystander invention, such as racial discrimination in a hair salon, a uniformed veteran running short at the grocery store checkout, or college students spiking a young woman's drink, and then celebrates the reactions of those who cannot help but get involved. those who don't care enough to bother The moral bankruptcy of some onlookers will leave you as disgusted as the kindness of those who genuinely care about you will leave you astounded. Do not overthink this situation. A Question for You: What Would You Do is ideal for a night in with some frozen pizza, wine, and a wet Friday. Trust me Believe me, you won't be sorry. -AW

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Cara Lends a Hand to Nathan - Love Island (2016) [HD]

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Don't pass judgment on the Love Island series based on the American remake. Compared to the first U, it's a pale imitation. K version, of which Hulu hosts all five seasons One possible reason is that learning about the dating customs, slang, and accents of a different culture is always interesting. Maybe it's because the first few seasons, in particular, are so racy. In the most endearing way possible, the competitors spend most of their time chain smoking, engaging in insane PDA, and talking smack about each other. I don't know what it is about this show that makes it superior to any other American dating show I've seen, but I've never cared so much about the lives of the show's reality stars or experienced such an emotional roller coaster. I can't say enough good things about it; it's fantastic, engrossing, and the ideal way to relax One essential piece of advice for newcomers is to always have the subtitles turned on. This is a quote from Loren Cecil.

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The Big Apple vs. Pumpkin

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Every season of The Bachelor follows the same formula: the most outrageous and unattractive contestants are eliminated early on, and Brad/Chad/Thad ultimately chooses to spend the next seven months with one of them. He spent 5 months of his life with one of the most uninteresting people on Earth. Just picture The Bachelor, except almost all of the contestants are too insane to survive the first rose ceremony. If the bachelor were Flavor Flav, what would happen? Can you picture the world reacting if Tiffany "New York" Pollard, the reigning queen of reality television, was introduced to the world by The Bachelor? Although it has been nearly 15 years since the premiere of "Flavor of Love," the show's legacy lives on in the countless memes that are still tossed around on social media. -GB

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What Do You Think, Top Chef Fans: Is This the Most Incredible Thing That’s Ever Happened On The Show? (Episode 7 of Season 14) | Bravo!

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The worst thing about Top Chef is that I have to have an endless supply of food in front of me while watching it. All the other stuff is what I really care about. Padma Lakshmi, artistic cuisine, and high drama. The question is, "What else could you want?" Chefs from all over the country have converged on the competition's 17 seasons to take on a series of cooking challenges in front of a panel of celebrity chefs and judges. It's a lot of fun to compete, and there are a wide variety of interesting challenges to choose from. In addition, I've gotten to the point where I out loudly criticize my own food by saying things like "needs more acid" when I take a taste, so I suppose you shouldn't be too shocked to see me on your screen in a few seasons. A.-Lauren Kranc

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Trailer for "The Simple Life"

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The idea was straightforward (haha) To perform backbreaking manual labor in the middle of nowhere, two spoiled socialites who have never had a job before are dispatched. Yet, the actual carrying out of the plan was anything but easy. Hopes that Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie would learn the value of a hard day's work when they were shipped off to rural Arkansas without their phones and credit cards in the first season of The Simple Life were dashed in a shitstorm of property damage and abrupt terminations. Season after season, the dynamic duo worked odd jobs, creating mayhem and conflict wherever they went. They may have been hotel maids one season, sausage factory technicians the next, and interns at a funeral home the season after that. Even though the show was a ratings smash, its fate was ultimately decided by the tabloid vicissitudes of the friendship between Hilton and Richie, which eventually turned so bitter that the show was canceled after four seasons. After a manufactured reunion for the fifth and final season, viewers still weren't satisfied. In this case, the adage that "you can't go home again" also applies to saying "that's hot" with sincerity. -AW

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Top Ten Crashes of My Super Sweet Sixteen, Ranked by MTV

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Watching a tiara-wearing 16-year-old lose it in front of her closest 800 friends because the Range Rover she can't legally drive is the wrong color is a unique experience for a grownup with a driver's license who doesn't own a car. That's the appeal of My Super Sweet Sixteen, an MTV reality show from the early 2000s that followed a girl as she planned her Super Sweet Sixteen, from the early stages of planning (such as recruiting celebrity performers) to the end (which is always spectacular but ultimately disappointing because no one present is of legal drinking age) of the party. Over the course of the show's ten seasons, My Super Sweet Sixteen never fails to entertain. To begin, there is the grand entrance of the birthday teen in a flashy car equipped with a megaphone and a list of invitees to be read off. As a result, tears have been shed. Tantrums Carriages drawn by horses The uninvited freshmen who show up every time because they can't miss the party of the century will be turned away by security. WHERE IS THE SURPRISING ARTIST NICKI MINAJ? You predicted she'd be here by now, right? There's so much more to life now that you're sixteen, and now's your chance to shine. -LK

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Tyra goes crazy and yells at a contestant (Legendado) on America's Next Top Model.

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The American version of "The Real World" is one of the campiest and most self-centered reality shows ever produced. This crude introduction to the world of modeling, hosted and produced by Tyra Banks, never quite got past Banks' flair for the dramatic. As it premiered at the height of the reality TV show bubble, America's Next Top Model stood out for its candid and at times harsh discussions of body image and race. Model degenerated into garbage after it was surpassed by more provocative shows. It relied on pointless obstacles and cheesy catchphrases that still managed to feel "on brand" for the series. Even though Tyra's makeovers usually meant the show was about to take a messy nosedive, it was still a lot of fun to watch from the start to the finish. -JK

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Program on MTV Called "NEXT"

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NEXT was...one of many MTV dating reality shows. The premise of the show was that a person's first impressions don't lie, so the featured single could easily eliminate a number of potential suitors. They hung out on the same bus your 34-year-old friend reserves to go to the club for their birthday, so you know they're not random. The contestants got off the bus and approached the featured single; if they were attractive enough, the date continued. During the date, the featured single is encouraged to yell NEXT if they ever get the impression that something is off. A walk of shame back to the bus awaits the disqualified competitors. An introduction to the show can be gained by viewing even a single episode. But if you don't think that's worthwhile (and you're probably ) Please, just make sure to watch this Iconic video of a contestant falling down the stairs, being brutally frozen in midair, and then being NEXT'd upon arrival. To make sure you're doing fine, I just wanted to check in. next - Ben Boskovich

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Roller buffalo from Jackass 3

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Can you picture yourself trying to explain Jackass to someone who has never heard of it? Heavy-set grownup males engaging in pointless antics For example, in the video above, Johnny Knoxville skates while a herd of buffalo is let loose and essentially mauls him. Despite being stupid and pointless, the series ran for three seasons on MTV and spawned at least six film adaptations. It's like a mix of reality TV and complete stupidity. The odd spirit of the turn of the century is also captured. -JK

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Watch the Vanderpump Rules Season 8 Official Trailer Now! | Bravo

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In its nearly ten years on television, Vanderpump Rules has consistently been regarded as a top-tier hit. Full stop In the first season, which aired in 2013, the show primarily focused on a real group of coworkers named Jax, Stassi, Tom, Kristen, the other (better) Tom, and Katie who were all involved in real (seriously fucked up) relationships and friendships. They were in their twenties and all they wanted was to be famous and drink pinot grigio. There were almost as many breakups as episodes in the first few seasons, as well as "relationships in Vegas" and novels' worth of rage texts and Laura Leigh. Brittany Cartwright played audio of her now-husband Jax Taylor cheating on her at a house party, and everyone could only stare in disbelief. At another, Kristen reversed course after months of denial and admitted she had cheated on Tom with his best friend Jax. There were fights, struggles with drugs, and embarrassing instances of shoplifting. This hasn't held up well over time, and the show itself seems to be in the midst of a reckoning as it dumps some of its problematic older cast members while bringing in a bevy of new faces, but hey, that's why we have On Demand. Dig in Madison Idiot

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Season 23 of Big Brother: Everything Is Wrong

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What's really symbolic is how the concept of Big Brother, from George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, has been transformed into today's ubiquitous surveillance state. reality show game show You've already joined Big Brother's show, so he doesn't need to bother looking for you. Putting aside philosophical debates, this show is fantastic. During their three month stay, the contestants (or houseguests) are isolated from the outside world and monitored around the clock. The remaining housemates vote one of their number out of the house every week, with the winner taking home a prize of between $500,000 and 0,000 (depending on the season). We see the contestants joke, cry, and form coalitions. Seeing how random people behave in a shared space is fascinating and illuminating about our culture. It's likely for this reason that the show has spawned over 62 localized adaptations around the world. That is to say, Big Brother is watching us constantly. A. Hassan Ammal

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A Compilation of the Top 5 Wife Swap Showdowns Paramount Network

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Due to the unfortunate coincidence of two nearly identical series airing simultaneously on two different networks, double billing has occurred for these two shows. Seeing two completely different families switch cultures and then live in complete chaos for about two weeks is just great television. Both series began as a discussion of humanity and the lessons that can be learned when people from different backgrounds and ideologies come together. The premise became increasingly disastrous as the show progressed, with only the most absurd elements being replaced by others. Even though both shows have been cancelled, the incredible meme that was born from the series lives on. God Warrior will live on even if its predecessors perish. -JK

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Jane, you got the win.

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You've found the right place if the idea of four or five complete strangers sitting down to a three-course meal prepared by an amateur chef sounds appealing to you. Over the course of 45 seasons, viewers have seen some of the worst cooking ever, grownups having tantrums reminiscent of a two-year-old upon experiencing defeat, and even an adult man deep-throating a whisk. In a word, yes As to why they would subject themselves to this, Not only have they given us some of the most memorable moments in television history, but they're also competing for a grand prize of £1,000. If that hasn't convinced you, let me add this: seeing the true gem that is an aggressively British read performed live (see video attached) is an experience like no other. ) – AH

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Headshot of Justin Kirkland

Justin KirklandKirkland, Justin

Writer

Brooklyn-based writer Justin Kirkland focuses on stories related to the South's culinary scene and cultural traditions. His writing has been featured in Esquire, NYLON, Vulture, and USA Today, among others.   
 

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Ammal HassanHassan Ammal

Esquire's Snapchat Editor, Ammal Hassan, is a writer. The main cultural topics she writes about are music and popular culture. She was born in Nairobi but now calls New York City home.  

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