You can talk about the Emmys and critically-acclaimed shows all you want, but you can’t call yourself a TV blogger without a post on reality TV. From Survivor to the Real Housewives, reality TV is a huge part of the entertainment landscape. And, let’s face it: these shows are downright entertaining. This is the complete, A to Z guide of everything we love about reality TV.
Tyra Banks is out to prove that you can be stunning and savvy with her mega-hit, America’s Next Top Model. This behind-the-scenes look at the cutthroat modeling world is full of cat fights and meltdowns. And then they add GUYS.
Bravo deserves its own mention in this guide, because the network is owning reality TV right now. Fill all of your guilty pleasure cravings with the Real Housewives of Every City Imaginable, First Family of Hip Hop, Married to Medicine, Top Chef and Vanderpump Rules.
Christina El Moussa is the reality star we all love to hate. Her flipped houses turn out gorgeous, after a grueling hour of her constantly pushing the budget and it all ending up just find. On that note, props to Christina and Tarek for continuing to be business partners after their divorce. If nothing else, it will make for good TV.
Reality TV shows have proven to be a huge platform for success. If you don’t believe me, ask Dance Mom’s Maddie Ziegler. She’s dancing, acting, modeling and served as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance: Next Generation, where she came face to face with another Dance Moms alum, Ava. The drama.
Hundreds of entrepreneurs have pitched their ideas to the sharks on Shark Tank, with some serious success stories coming from the show. The panel of judges perfectly balances each other, from understanding Mark to not-so-nice Kevin, for reality TV even the serious businessperson can appreciate.
Do I get double points for alliteration? Regardless, Fear Factor is a can’t-turn-your-eyes-away mess of bugs, cliffs, food and stunts. There are several reasons this show is no longer on the air, including the insane costs of production and questionable acts completed by contestants…
Gordon Ramsay is every aspiring celebrity chef’s idol. This man has created a fool-proof reality TV personality that continues to draw in audiences. He’s a big old teddy bear on Masterchef Jr and a big old you-know-what on Hell’s Kitchen. Either way, audiences adore him.
HGTV has the home-tour market locked down as of late, but we can’t forget the success of Cribs, the show that brought us behind the scenes at incredible celebrity homes. Or rather, the homes celebrities wanted us to think were theirs.
History Channel reality TV is in a category all its own, far from the world of Kardashians and Bachelors. Ice Road Truckers might be the tamest of the network’s unscripted lineup, with the ever-warming Arctic adding to the danger – and the appeal.
If Christina from Flip or Flop is the one we love to hate, Joanna Gaines is the HGTV star we actually all love. This family is building and empire and I think half the country is ready to move to Waco just for a Magnolia home; I know I am.
If K didn’t go to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I wouldn’t be able to call this a complete guide. The Kardashians wrote the book on what reality TV success looks like, and E! airs the more than 180 episodes of KUWTK almost constantly.
American Idol created a few stars in its 15 season history, with Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks all finding their way onto the charts after winning the reality competition. There have also been some successful runners-up, including one of the show’s most interesting contestants, Adam Lambert.
Pete Nelson is a Treehouse Master, and he proves it on his incredible Animal Planet reality TV series. What’s not to love about an upscale living room in the middle of the forest?! Possibly the $300,000 price tag, but I’m content watching other people live out their treehouse dreams.
Nicole Polizzi, better known as “Snooki,” and the rest of her Jersey Shore crew took the east coast by storm in the early 2000s. From a LMFAO theme song to the GTL life, this show was a pop culture primer. Jersey Show was so important the University of Chicago held a conference on the topic.
You know you’ve made it when there’s an Emmy for your genre. Reality TV shows compete for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program, which has both structured and unstructured categories.
Pimp My Ride and its numerous spin offs had all of us dreaming of professional-grade speakers in our trunks and LEDs flashing from our tires. And flames – no vehicle upgrade is complete without flames.
This one’s a stretch, but BBQ Pitmasters is taking the Q spot (if anyone else has a better idea, let me know). Everyone loves a good barbeque. Pair it with a little healthy competition and some really interesting characters, both pitmasters and judges, and you have yourselves a reality TV show.
Reality TV wouldn’t be what it is today without the MTV classic Real World. This show normalized the manufactured atmospheres we’ve come to love of The Bachelor and Bachelorette, Jersey Shore, Hell’s Kitchen and so many more.
This year’s season of Survivor will be its 34th, making it the longest running reality competition series. More than a few of castaways are crazy enough to come back for more surviving, so it must be more fun to compete than it looks.
Trista Rehn was the very first Bachelorette after her second place finish on the first season of The Bachelor. The ABC duo of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette has proved a successful rose-studded reality TV recipe for the network.
The Celebrity Apprentice got a new host in season 15, after it lost its original front man to the United States presidency. This is one of those reality TV shows that collects “celebrities” from other reality TV shows and creates a train wreck we can’t help but watch.
NBC’s hit The Voice is taking over where American Idol left off, with the feel-good twist of blind auditions. Cue the sappy intro clip, nervous parents and dramatics that only occur when aspiring performers are picked for their idols’ teams.
What happens when you trade significant others for two weeks? Disaster, which ABC correctly predicted would make great television. Wife Swap lasted four seasons and is still in syndication.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition sounds like an X, so I’m going with it. This show had it all: home renovation meets deserving family meets community involvement. And who didn’t love artist/model/carpenter/host Ty Pennington?
I’m saying YES to the dress. Or rather, I’m agonizing over the fact that your bridesmaids are crazy and the perfect dress for your wedding costs thousands of dollars. But gosh the dresses at Kleinfeld are stunning and these attendants are just SO NICE.
Very little record of Ultimate Zoo exists, but imagine the Animal Planet version of an HGTV series, and you get this reality TV show. Episodes followed the creation and use of amazing zoo exhibits from around the world.