Some people consider reality TV to be basically junk food for the mind. But we don't care, we totally crave it every once in a while, just like we love our fave brand of potato chips. Reality television is totally and completely unpredictable. Unlike the drama on scripted shows where you honestly know what's coming next, reality TV makes no promises and follows no planned-out structure. Reality TV really exploded in the 2000s when shows like The Simple Life, Laguna Beach, and Jersey Shore came along. The cast of these shows became celebrities themselves in their own right. If your real life doesn’t have enough drama, you can easily get your fix from the TV! Whether it’s a game show, contest, or just observing rich people living their drama-filled lives, these shows are sure fun to binge-watch. Who hasn’t lived vicariously through the ultra-glam Kardashians at some point in their lives? Take a look at our fave 15 guilty pleasures.
15 Real Housewives
Orange County. New York City. Atlanta. New Jersey. D.C. Beverly Hills. Miami. Dallas. Potomac. This show is a phenomenon that has prompted so many spin-offs it’s hard to keep up! It also helped kick-start the careers of housewives NeNe Leakes, who has booked solid acting work, and lifestyle guru Bethenny Frankel. Another prominent figure to come out of the series is Teresa Giudice, who became popular due to her legal troubles and spending 11 months in prison. Talk about drama! This series revolves around the lives of rich housewives with lavish, luxurious lives. The casts don’t always get along, however, which is the main component that reels viewers in. Whether it’s screaming at the top of their lungs or flipping tables over, these ladies simply cannot control their anger! This show makes you simultaneously jealous and relieved... jealous you aren’t that rich, but relieved you aren’t that crazy!
14 Real World
This show goes all the way back to 1992.The premise? Several regular people are chosen to live in a house together. Sounds pretty boring, right? Well, not when you make sure you cast the most volatile people in America! Though there are knock-out-drag-down fights abound, there is also some pretty important coverage of social issues. For example, the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, when it still existed, was examined when a cast member had a boyfriend in the army. It also brought attention to the AIDS epidemic as a 1994 cast member lived with the disease. Although not as serious as it once was, Real World is inserting twists to spice things up and keep things interesting. The latest? You must perform scary challenges and stunts in order to remain in the house!
13 Are You the One?
Are You the One is one of the more recent MTV staples, combin the drama of hook-ups with the anticipation and excitement that comes with game shows. 20 people (equal amounts of each gender) are brought into a house after taking an extensive matchmaking test. The contestants must find their match within the house and, if they can find all ten matches within ten tries, they win one million dollars! Not bad, huh? You can win love and money! However, issues arise when people began to fall for others who they learn are not their match after being voted into the “Truth Booth” where one match can be confirmed or denied each week. Many couples stay together even though the truth booth has denied their match-up, which ultimately causes drama in the game as they still have to find their real match. This show has fights, game show challenges, and sometimes true connections are actually found!
12 The Challenge
Another show that combines real-world drama with a game show twist, this show takes the best of the cast members from previous seasons of Real World and Are You the One? and makes them go head-to-head in physical challenges while they all live in a house together. Sometimes, there will be a twist to the season such as “Battle of the Bloodlines,” where family members of the contestants join the competition. Other times, teams are put together by who hates each other or who used to date! If you make it to the end (and don’t end up killing your partner) you compete in an ultimate physical challenge. Whoever wins first place gets not only gloating privileges but a cash prize. Drama is ensured not just due to controversial pairings, but the fact that the winners of each week’s challenge get to vote a team to compete in a challenge against the losers. Making this choice often ruffles some feathers in the house!
11 The Bachelor/Bachelorette
The Bachelor, which premiered in 2002, definitely became an instant hit. A single and attractive man meets around 25 eligible single ladies, and he eliminates them one by one by not handing the woman a rose, while everyone else does receive one. Brutal! The Bachelor goes on group dates until the pool starts to dwindle, and then the single dates occur. This process continues until there are two left, and this is usually the most anxiety-ridden part of the show. Typically, he loves both finalists, but can only propose to one of them! Yes, propose. The Bachelor usually ends up marrying the winner of the show (although whether that marriage lasts has always been up in the air!) A spin-off, the Bachelorette, was created so that ladies could get theirs too. Some of the Bachelorettes are actually rejected contestants from the Bachelor! This show is fun to watch as you pick a favorite finalist and are either satisfied or dismayed by the Bachelor’s choice.
10 RuPaul’s Drag Race
Not your typical reality show, this one stars drag queens competing to be the best of the best. Contestants are given a performance challenge (acting, singing, dancing) and then design a drag outfit that legendary drag queen RuPaul prompts and work the runway. Two queens are put up for elimination at the end, and they must Lip-Sync for Their Life to save their place. Literally, music is played and they have to mouth the words dramatically, something drag shows consist of. Whoever gives the best performance gets to stay. These eliminations go on and on until one is left, and that one has the honor of becoming America's Next Drag Superstar. Okay, first of all, this show is really freaking funny. They're drag queens! Their job is to be funny and perform. We have yet to find a reality show more quotable than this. Definitely, give it a try if you haven't seen it!
9 Dance Moms
This show follows the Abby Lee Dance company, which is made up of a group of 11 to 14-year-old girls, as they prepare for competitions. So, what does this show have to do with the moms? Well, the moms think their daughter is the best, which can cause clashes when every mom in the room wants their child to be on top. There is just as much betrayal as there is friendship, and no one really trusts anyone. Also, Abby Lee Miller, the choreographer, is kind of evil. She berates these children until they cry. There is a difference between constructive criticism and just being mean, and Abby Lee doesn’t seem to understand that difference. You're totally going to rage-watch this because, whoa, can these girls dance! There is something so satisfying about watching them work hard at their dance studio and then be rewarded on stage for their efforts.
Did you know this show actually started in the U.K.? Survivor started the 2000s surge of successful reality TV shows. This one can be hard to watch sometimes: a group of people are put on a desert island where they must survive with almost no help. To add to the hardship, they also have to compete in challenges to maintain their position on the island. Not exactly ideal living conditions! So why fight to stay? Money, of course! The winner gets an extravagant cash prize. If that weren’t dramatic enough, you can be voted off the island by your fellow contestants. Ouch! However, if you stay kind, helpful, and in peak shape for challenges, you may just see yourself reaching the end. This is another one of those shows where you can’t help but have a favorite and root for somebody. You're totally going to have so much fun cheering people on... from the comfort of your own couch.
7 Amazing Race
Like The Challenge, the key to winning this show is a successful partnership. Teams of two have to race around the world to reach different pit stops. That’s right, the world—planes are definitely involved! And if you get there last, there’s a good chance you’re out! It’s not just a physical race, it’s a mind race as well. Each pit stop contains clues on where the next pit stop is and how to get there. And, you guessed it, there are challenges to complete along the way! The show follows this format until three teams are left, and then it’s just a physical race to the finish line with the winner being whoever arrives at the finish line first. And that prize is nice: one million dollars. This show is actually pretty funny watching contestants struggle to figure out clues and complete tasks, and there are some great personalities on this program.
Catfish can actually be kind of sad, depending on how invested you get, but boy is it entertaining to see what goes down! The MTV series (based on the documentary of the same name) stars Nev Schulman and Max Joseph as they work to help people around the country learn if they are being “catfish'd” or not. “Catfish’d” is just another way of saying you’ve been tricked. With modern technology, people fall in love online all the time. But how do you know the person you are talking to are who they say they are? Their webcam doesn’t work, they sound weird on the phone, etc. Sometimes there are too many suspicious clues that don’t add up. That’s when Nev and Max come in to track down the Catfish and see if they are legit or not. Spoiler alert: they're usually not! It then becomes a psychoanalysis as the victim confronts their Catfish and Nev and Max ask questions to try and find out why they did what they did.
5 Little Women
This show is similar to Real Housewives, but revolves a group of woman who might not be ridiculously rich housewives, but there is still plenty of drama. The catch? All of these women have dwarfism, and the show sheds light on both their challenges and successes. The original takes place in Los Angeles, but there are spin-offs, of course: Little Women: New York City and Little Women: Atlanta. What is interesting about this show is that, although the cast is little, that’s barely ever a focus on the show. Instead, we get the classic yelling of insults across a table in public or throwing drinks in one another’s faces. When it does focus on their dwarfism, it’s usually in the context of their growing families. Some of these women are mother’s now, and must take extra steps to ensure the health of their child, especially if the child has dwarfism too. If you like a little enlightenment with your drama, give this one a peek.
4 Teen Mom
Having a child can be a huge blessing, but it’s not all fun and games, as this show teaches us. Most teenagers don’t exactly mean to get pregnant but are uneducated about contraception and sex. This leads to lives changing dramatically… forever. There are other versions but Teen Mom features the original girls that were featured on MTV show 16 and Pregnant. It follows the lives of moms Farrah Abraham, Maci Bookout, Catelynn Lowell and Amber Portwood as they continue to raise their children, Sophia, Bentley, and Leah. Catelynn’s child, Carly, is raised by adoptive parents. Although they aren’t 16 anymore, they’re still at a very young age and have to struggle balancing being a mother and life in their 20s. This show is entertaining to be sure, but it’s also a wake-up call, a warning almost. Babies are fun, but try and wait until you’re in a good place to have one! This program will remind you of the hardships that come with being a parent.
3 The Biggest Loser
On this show, being a loser is a good thing! This is a diet and exercise show where people wanting to lose weight are guided by personal trainers and nutritionists to get back on track. If you’ve tried to lose weight before, you know this isn’t easy, but imagine having to condense down the time you have to lose weight and having to work out for hours a day! Not to mention the fact that you can get voted off, without reaching your goal! But if you make it to the end of the show, there are two prizes: a cash prize, and a new body. Oh, but do they torture these contestants! They tempt them with sweets or time off from exercising in exchange to make a call home, for example. Totally evil! But there is a great thing that comes out of this show: the contestants are taught new habits and lifestyle changes that they can keep forever.
2 Big Brother
This show is a creepy concept, but highly entertaining! Big Brother consists of a bunch of people living in a house being filmed 24/7. And talk about cabin fever: you can’t leave the house and if you do, you can’t come back! The contestants get absolutely no privacy, are completely isolated from the rest of the world, and we get to watch it all unfold on TV and online! This may seem like just plain suffering, but of course, you can’t get people to give up their lives without an incentive! And the grand prize of $50,000 is a pretty good incentive. Of course, there are catches like, yup, you can absolutely get voted off. And you can get kicked out of the house too if you’re dangerous! So yes, there is the occasional violent outburst on this show too. What’s fun is that we get to watch them online also even when the show is not on. They are literally being stalked by us!
1 Keeping Up With The Kardashians
You knew this was coming. The Kardashian family basically created an entire franchise through this one television show. Keeping Up With The Kardashians stars sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe and their half-sisters Kendall and Kylie. Oh, and the mom’s name is Kris. K? The show also sometimes features their brother Rob, their current love interests, and Kris’ ex Caitlyn Jenner. The Kardashians have built an empire, all because America is glued to their show. Love them or hate them, you have to admit the show can be pretty funny. It’s also interesting to see how the other half lives (the Kardashians are pretty rich and gorgeous if you didn’t know). Right now it’s probably the #1 reality show there is. It’s also been a consistent hit. The show started in 2007 and they are now on their 12th season. Not to mention all the spin-offs! “Successful” is an understatement when it comes to this show.