*Disclaimer: I am fully aware that everyone has their favorite ‘Reality TV’ shows and many of you would have a completely different list. However, I simply tried to represent all the genres and generations the best I could. These are not necessarily my favorites, but just the shows that I feel have made ‘Reality TV’ history since its inception.
Funny how most of America sits on their rumps, eating junk food, watching people lose 10 pounds a week when The Biggest Loser is on. With contestants almost always tipping the scales at well over 250 pounds, they do have a lot to lose. And what they don?t show us is that they are working out 8 hours a day, eating 1200 calorie diets made by on-site chefs and nutritionists. But hey, that would take the fun out of it, right? We see these people dropping double digits week after week and beat ourselves up when we can?t drop 5 pounds in a month.
Too bad once the honeymoon is over, the finale is filmed, and the winner is pronounced, these people have to go back to normal lives and almost always gain at least some of the weight back. Winner of season 3, Erik Chopin, lost an astonishing 124 pounds on the show, and went on to lose a total of 214 pounds altogether. However, he has now regained about 122 pounds back and now weighs in at over 300 pounds. He even appeared on the Oprah show to admit to America that he had let us all down. And byy Season 6, the winner of Season 1 (Ryan Benson) had already gained every single pound back.
Though I love the hard-hitting efforts of trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels (and I secretly want them to come train me everyday), the show is completely impractical for the rest of America. Yes, dozens of contestants? lives have been changed and transformed, inspiring millions to get healthy. However, I just wonder if sometimes the damage is worse than the progress made when the bar is set so freakishly high.
All Stars: Erik Chopin, Ali Vincent, Matt Hoover, Isabeau Miller
Project Runway is a little show that has become a huge runaway hit. Having produced 5 seasons since 2004, this show is what put Bravo TV on the map. With super hottie Heidi Klum serving as host and judge, and huge names like Michael Kors and Nina Garcia on the panel, this is one of very few competition-type shows with true credibility. Winners and finalists on Project Runway almost always find success, and season 4 winner Christian Siriano has become a tiny little media darling.
With about 12 designers starting off, each week one person is eliminated after a fast-paced design and creation challenge is performed. Three or four people end up in the finals with the huge opportunity to show at esteemed New York Fashion Week. Drama between designers and mentor Tim Gunn is never failing, and the attitudes and personalities of these creative types never disappoint. Though this show isn?t a household name as much as Survivor or American Idol, it?s just as good (if not better).
All Stars: Santino Rice, Jay McCarroll, Austin Scarlett, Jeffrey Sebelia, Laura Bennett, Christian Siriano, Kenley Collins, Chris March
The little spin-off of teen docu-drama Laguna Beach has evolved into a mega-hit sensation that appeals to teens and thirty-something?s alike. The life of now reality tv star, Lauren Conrad, and her entourage has become a cult favorite with a massive following. From the glamorous jobs at Teen Vogue and People?s Revolution, to the dates with hot boys, to the constant cat fighting between friends, her life seems to never be dull.
And with people like Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt to keep the drama ever-flowing, we just can?t seem to turn off the tube when this little show is on. Spencer gets Heidi fired, they fight about… well… everything, then they run off to Mexico to elope. You couldn?t write this stuff! And then there?s Audrina Patridge with her big fake boobs and her weirdo sometimes boyfriend, Justin Bobby.
This spin-off launched another spin-off, The City, starring Lauren?s co-worker Whitney Port?s big move to NYC.? With an equalling dramatic cast and annoying ?friend? Olivia, the new generation of MTV reality tv is even better!
All Star Episodes: Lauren Conrad & Jason Wahler break up after she chose a summer with him over a summer in Paris for Teen Vogue; Lauren Conrad tells Heidi Montag: ?I want to forgive you, and I want to forget you?; Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt get loaded and elope in Mexico
Though the list of participating celebs is almost always a group of D-listers trying to make some sort of Hollywood comeback, we just can?t seem to get enough. In production in 31 countries, the show is based on the original British version ?Strictly Come Dancing?. Each celebrity is paired with a champion professional ballroom dancer whom they compete with week after week. At the end of each performance, viewers call or text in votes with one team going home during the next day?s elimination show. Three finalist couples end up in the finale competing for the coveted mirrorball trophy.
Though some careers have shot back to life (Mario Lopez, Brooke Burke), for the most part it?s just fun to watch the untalented, uninspired wanna-be?s dance their way into our pitiful little hearts. These days I think we watch the show more for the professionals whom we have come to love more than the crazy has-been celebs. And who can resist those incredible outfits (or lack thereof)?!
All Stars: John O’Hurley, Marie Osmond, Jason Taylor, Drew Lachey, Kristi Yamaguchi, Brooke Burke, Jerry Rice, Cameron Mathison, Emmett Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Jerry Springer
Hosted by short-man Joe Rogan, Fear Factor shot to popularity thanks to it?s crazy stunts and gross-out antics. These stunts were designed to challenge the contestants both physically and mentally. If a player was too afraid to complete or failed a stunt, he/she was eliminated. With a grand prize of $50k, people participated in some wild physical antics and ate just about anything- including testicles. Someone once even went bobbing for apples… in blood. Though 1-2 stunts each week were physical, they were never as difficult or scary as the food/eating challenges.
There was never a shortage of scary or nasty occurrences and though the show only lasted from 2001-2006, it lives on in syndication. There were multiple editions that strayed away from the ?norm?- when beauty pageant contestants, couples, military, families, reality show stars, and celebrities competed.
All Star Stunts: Eating buffalo testicles, rat bobbing, eating horse rectum, fear factor spaghetti (live night crawlers and coagulated blood balls), swimming with snakes/gators
Though they are working on the 13th season with only two couples still together (Charlie O?Connell and Sarah Brice; Byron Velvick and Mary Delgado when they aren?t charging each other with domestic violence), The Bachelor is easily one of the most popular shows in America. Women- and all romantics in general- are drawn to the plot: One man chooses from 25 beautiful women to find his life partner through a series of dates over a very short span of time.
With five broken engagements after the show, the track record isn?t great. In addition, two bachelors and their ladies broke up before the show ever aired, and bar-owner Brad Womack dumped both women at the finale. Current Bachelor Jason Mesnick may be the most loved suitor ever: After being rejected on one knee by Bachelorette Deanna Pappas once America had fallen head-over-heels in love with him, we successfully campaigned to make him the next Bachelor. He has stated that through his show he has found true love and is engaged to the woman of his dreams. In just a couple weeks we will find out who that is!!
All Stars: Bevin Powers (got crazy after being rejected by Andy Baldwin), Trish Schneider (girl with short, curly hair that came back for Jesse Palmer the week after she didn?t get a rose), Helene Eksterowicz (crazy chick actually chosen by Aaron Buerge), Andrew Firestone, Bob Guiney, Andy Baldwin
Having been around since 2001 and with 13 successful seasons, this hit show is a cult favorite. Eleven or twelve teams of two travel around the world, racing to each ?pit stop? while competing in crazy challenges and using limited money and resources along the way. Each race has a set amount of pre-determined non-elimination legs where the last team to arrive is not eliminated but must run the next leg with a significant disadvantage… Usually that week the people we hate the most end up getting to stay.
While a lot of time is spent away from other teams, there is always a fair share of drama between cast-mates. Teams vary in relationship, including: homo and heterosexual couples, newly dating couples and long-time lovers, fraternity brothers, siblings, family members, friends, and divorcees. The show is fast-paced and stressful, but America just can?t seem to get enough… With 11 Emmy awards and a spawn of international versions, it seems to be universal.
All Stars: Uchenna & Joyce, Eric & Danielle, Charla & Mirna, BJ & Tyler, Danny & Oswald
Those two words excite massive screams and cheers from millions of teeny boppers world wide, but the phenomenon has hooked the entire nation- young and old. Whether it?s actually the show?s talent, the hallucinating contestants who truly believe they are the greatest singer to ever audition, the snarky comments from Simon Cowell, or the apparent drunkenness of Paula Abdul- millions of viewers tune in week after week, year after year.
With no real formatting changes in seven years, for this eighth season a fourth judge was added in Kara DioGuardi. And though many winners have been one-hit-wonders (Fantasia Barrino, Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard), Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have legitimized the talent competition. And with the massive success of Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, we have seen that you don?t have to even place in the final three of this mega-hit to make it big. David Cook is also here to stay- I think his name is one we will hear for years to come.
All Stars: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Sanjaya Malakar, William Hung, Nikki McKibbin, Elliott Yamin, Mandisa, Kellie Pickler, David Cook
The reality show that started it all is still one of the best ones out there after 17 years and 21 seasons. It all began with seven strangers in New York in 1992 who lived together while we watched the drama unfold. The envelope?s been pushed time after time, first with an openly gay roommate living with HIV(Pedro Zamora), then with an alcoholic?s addiction (Ruthie Alcaide), and later with threesomes getting it on in a hot tub (Steven, Trishelle and Brynn).
Every season brings us something new and unexpected, but the roommate stereotypes are generally always the same. There have definitely been more boring and forgettable seasons than others, but casts like San Francisco, Miami, Hawaii, Back to New York, Las Vegas and Austin make us fall on love all over again.
This show spawned other popular favorites like Road Rules and the Challenges that bring together all our favorite crazies from seasons past. But without the original, none of the other awesome shows would be successful. Real World has definitely made television and pop culture history.
All Stars: Eric Nies, David ?Puck? Rainey, Teck Holmes, Coral Smith, Mike ?The Miz? Mizanin, CT Tamburella, Trishelle Cannatella, Tonya Cooley, Beth Stolarczyk, Aneesa Ferreira
Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. Sure, those three catchy words are supposed to explain this game in a nutshell. But with seventeen seasons under it?s belt and a new one right around the corner, we all know that is a much kinder and more compassionate ideal than what really happens on this show. The best three words to describe this game are manipulate, deceive & fight. We are glued to the boob tube when this show comes on to see who will stab whom in the back first. Even though we usually cheer for the ?good guys?, even they must resort to tactics of lying, cheating and stealing to win this game, and we sweep their sins under the rug in the name of good television.
With no major changes over the course of all these years, this show is an example of a formula for success that works time after time. Additions like Exile Island and hidden immunity idols have added to the drama, but the tribal council at the end of each show is all any of us really need.
All Stars: Richard Hatch, Rob & Amber Mariano, Ethan Zohn, Colby Donaldson, Yau-Man Chan, James Clement, Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth, Parvati Shallow, Jerri Manthey