Top 10 Reality TV Shows
Reality television is one of the most popular show genres to date. From watching all the shocking, uncut moments to rooting on your favorite villains, there’s something addicting about tuning in every week. We’re breaking down the top 10 reality TV shows you need to start binge watching for the ultimate entertainment experience.
The Real World
New York City. Seattle. Austin. Key West. These are just some of the cities that have brought the drama for the longest-running program in MTV history. The Real World was inspired by scripted shows like 90210 and Melrose Place, but didn’t have the budget for writers, actors, and a crew. Producers instead picked seven strangers to live under the same roof in a new city and kept the cameras constantly rolling.
Along with the drama, the show unpacks controversial issues, such as race, religion, sexuality and substance abuse. Whether you tuned in to watch Pedro and his partner commit their lives to each other in Season 3, or Joey opens up about his alcohol addiction struggles in Season 20, each season is filled with never-forget scenes that helped shape the reality TV genre. The Real World has 32 seasons and has even led to new MTV spin-off concepts like Road Rules and The Challenge.
Would you compete to survive on a deserted island for a $1 million prize? Popular Emmy-award winning series Survivor sends a group of strangers to a tropical location in an attempt to become “The Sole Survivor.” In the beginning episodes, contestants are split into tribes and are responsible for finding food and shelter together. They participate in regular challenges to earn elimination immunity and rewards like a full-course meal, a spa trip, special lodging and more.
About halfway through the show, the tribe merges into one and the competition becomes more individual. This is where the show’s “Outwit. Outsmart. Outlast.” motto comes into play the most. However, the catch throughout Survivor is that each member casts a secret ballot on who should be voted off the island next. Tune in for betrayals, non-stop competition and all the drama in between.
In today’s world of dating apps like Bumble, Hinge and Tinder, looking for love is a challenge. But how would you feel if you had to date 30 people at the same time, and every moment was broadcasted on national television? The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are some of the most well-known reality TV guilty pleasures and have aired 22 seasons since the premiere in 2002. The show concept was created by Mike Fleiss, who has created and produced other popular dating shows, such as Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire and The Proposal.
The show takes place in a California mansion, where a group of women or men compete for the attention of the lead bachelor or bachelorette. Among dramatic rose ceremonies and tear-filled breakups, viewers get to watch contestants that are genuinely looking for love and those who are there for the wrong reasons. Plus, host Chris Harrison usually urges viewers to “stay tuned for the most dramatic season in Bachelor history,” and he’s never wrong. Although there are plenty of failed relationships that come shortly after most finales, there are couples who have successfully stayed together and kept The Bachelor and The Bachelorette love story alive. Tune in to watch which contestants say yes to every season’s burning question: “Will you accept this rose?”
Thousands of people audition, millions of Americans vote and one person wins. American Idol is one of the most famous singing competition reality TV series to date. The show is based off of British show Pop Idol created by Simon Fuller, where singers audition for their big break in front of a group of judges, but their fate is left in the hands of millions of voters across the country. In addition to the nail-biting competition, the judges’ banter and disagreements are also a main point of entertainment during the show. The original group of judges included Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, but in recent years, new faces like Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Lionell Richie and Katy Perry were introduced to the role.
Throughout the years, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips and Maddie Pope were all front-runners who dazzled viewers and judges during auditions and went on to win their respective American Idol seasons. They’ve all gone on to record a number of albums and sing on tour. Although there were plenty of singers who got their audition tickets to Hollywood, there were also a number of contestants that created cringe-worthy moments we’ll never forget, like William Hung’s rendition of “She Bangs” or Larry Platt’s original song “Pants on the Ground.”
Fancy cars, shopping sprees, lavish vacations and lots of plastic surgery. The Real Housewives franchise gives viewers a glimpse of what it’s like to live like an affluent housewife. But when you group together women who have it all, they don’t stop gossiping. The Bravo network series follows several housewives in cities like New York, Beverly Hills, Dallas and Atlanta. Although fans get an insider view into the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, they also might start to realize that the grass isn’t always greener. Being on this reality TV show means every housewife’s personal life – for better or for worse – is exposed to millions of people.
Throughout the years, many of the housewives have gone through both transformational and life-altering experiences, such as divorces, ended friendships and new business ventures. We’ve seen Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York City build her Skinnygirl empire and have a baby, but we’ve also seen her go through a terrible divorce and end her friendship with Jill Zarin. We’ve seen Teresa Giudice from The Real Housewives of New Jersey write a best-seller cookbook and spoil her four daughters, but we’ve also seen her ongoing family drama and recent legal struggles unfold. Whether they’re flipping tables and grabbing hair extensions or making up during reunion episodes with host Andy Cohen as the mediator, these housewives know how to bring the drama.
You want love triangles? Then Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County is the show for you. Typically referred to as Laguna Beach, this MTV series follows the drama-filled lives of several teenagers living in (you guessed it) Laguna Beach—a high-end seaside community in Orange County, California. Premiering on September 28, 2004, the show aired during what Entertainment Tonight dubbed “the golden age of the Razor flip phone, the denim miniskirt… and the epic teenage flat-ironed hair.”
The first season centers around high school senior Lauren Conrad, her rival Kristin Cavallari, and their shared love interest, Stephen Colletti. When the camera isn’t highlighting their romantic roller coaster, audiences follow the cast to fashion shows, broadway auditions, and even a Blink-182 concert. While most American teens probably don’t go farther than the local swimming pool for Spring Break, the cast of Laguna Beach partied in Cabo, naturally. From the excessive prom-posals to the heated breakups, there’s never a dull moment in Orange County. While the teens in Laguna Beach may seem far-removed from reality, viewers can easily relate to their strong friendships and pre-graduation nerves. The show only survived for three seasons, and its legacy lived on through its spin-off series The Hills.
If your internship at Teen Vogue landed you the opportunity to spend a summer in Paris, would you go or pass it up to stay close to your romantic interest? These are everyday problems for the cast of The Hills, a spin-off series of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. Premiering in 2006, The Hills follows ex-Laguna Beach star, Lauren Conrad, as she navigates her budding fashion career and unceasingly dramatic social life in Los Angeles. The show also features Conrad’s Laguna Beach costars Lo Bosworth and Kristin Cavallari, along with Audrina Patridge, Whitney Port, and Heidi Montag.
With pregnancy scares, parties, engagements and more, The Hills is jam-packed with the reality TV excitement you know and love. But between all the rumors, fallouts and mascara-filled tears, it’s hard to tell if The Hills really put the “real” in reality. According to Wetpaint.com, the girls of the show were on their phones so much during key scenes because “that was how the producers communicated with them and told them what to say when the cameras were rolling.” Regardless of whether or not that’s true, the drama was still authentic enough to make the show a hit. The Hills was slightly more successful than its flagship series, lasting for six seasons (Laguna Beach only lasted three).
There’s no shortage of fist pumps, Ron Ron juice and trips to Karma Night Club on Jersey Shore. This MTV reality series follows a group of housemates – or self-described guidos and guidettes – who spend the summer together at Seaside Heights. After long shifts working at the Shore Store, the Jersey Shore crew spends the summers partying, fighting and finding new hookups. Over six seasons, some of the wildest moments unfold right on camera, and it kept viewers coming back for more. Scenes like Mike “The Situation” knocking himself out in Italy, Snooki’s drunken arrest and Ronnie and Sammi Sweetheart’s chaotic relationship are all memorable moments in the show’s history.
After its season premiere, Jersey Shore quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon and introduced America to new slang terms like “GTL,” “meatball,” “grenade,” and “stage five clinger.” The show has also produced new reality spinoffs like Snooki & JWoww, The Pauly D Project and Jersey Shore Family Vacation.
From corn husks to human hair (yes, you read that correctly), Project Runway has been pushing the boundaries of haute couture since 2004. Contestants are challenged to design and create unique clothing under various time, material and theme restrictions. A panel of judges then provides praise and/or criticism, and eliminates one contestant every week. Each season’s finalists prepare complete collections for display at New York Fashion Week (one of the most prestigious fashion events in the world), but only one designer walks away with $100,000 to start his or her very own line and a feature spread in Marie Claire magazine.
The show’s challenges have ranged from creating one-of-a-kind outfits for celebrities (e.g. Brooke Shields) to constructing pieces with unusual elements. The show is hosted by Heidi Klum and features fashion industry giants like Tim Gunn, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen. Besides stressing over what Michael Kors will think, contestants also have to worry over the opinions of various guest judges, including everyone from Ciara to Priyanka Chopra. Whether their designs end up on a billboard in Times Square or in the backstage trash can, contestants have to give it their all to earn the coveted limelight as a Project Runway champion. To sum up the show in three words, we’ll leave you with Gunn’s classic line: “Make it work.”
The Amazing Race
With over 30 completed seasons, The Amazing Race is one of the longest-running reality TV competitions in production and attracts an average of 10 million viewers per season. The show has won ten Emmy Awards for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program since the award’s creation in 2003—that’s only four years when the award didn’t go to The Amazing Race! The competition follows 11 teams of two people on a race around the world. At each destination, teams must complete a series of mental and physical challenges in order to discover clues towards their next location.
Teams have to navigate foreign cities, communicate with locals and manage a small travel budget provided by the show. Contestants who fall behind risk getting eliminated, and whoever arrives at the final destination first wins the $1 million prize. Past racers have included surfer and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton and her husband Adam, cancer-surviving father-son duo Dave and Connor O’Leary and even Flight Time and Big Easy of the Harlem Globetrotters. If you can’t already tell how crazy this contest gets, here’s a famous quote from Colin Guinn, a contestant from season 5: “My ox is broken!”
Ready to binge watch a new reality TV show? Whether you’re recording the latest episode or streaming it live, order DIRECTV today to start enjoying the premium entertainment you deserve.