Overall, I'm not really a reality show junkie. As we all know, most of them are horrible and even I...the master of crap...feel like I'm wasting my time watching the majority of them. The competition shows just get to be exhausting and the "following people around" sub-genre usually feels like they're just grabbing at straws. But every show has it's fans. Here's 10 Reality Shows that I've loved or at least fondly remember:
Animal Precinct (2001-2008; Animal Planet) I loves me some Animal Precinct! It was like Cops but with dogs and cats instead of guns and drugs...but there were still alot of dirtbags in white tank top t-shirts. Cameras followed the ASPCA of New York City and followed up on calls of animal neglect or abuse and other illegal animal activities. There was always just some really bizarre things going on. Actor Michael Madsen was the series narrator and managed to work the word "emaciated" into every single episode. It was really a highlight of the whole show. Animal Precinct was the first show I ever set a Season Pass for on TiVo. Ah, the memories!
Girls Next Door (2005-present; E!) Oddly enough, I discovered this favorite show of mine while wrapping Christmas presents in the middle of the night one year. I've mentioned my love for this show before. The original run of the show followed Holly, Bridget and Kendra and their lives as Hugh Hefner's girlfriends and residences of the Playboy Mansion. While this show does obviously have it's sexy and risque moments, it's all actually quite tame and the reason I love it is for the look inside the incredibly fascinating Playboy Mansion and how it's run, and the whole show is just so plain goofy. Cartoon sound effects, silly story-lines and very clever editing make this one of my favorite shows on TV right now. Unfortunately last year, the girls all split from Hef and the show was revamped with three new girls who only lasted one season. The new girls were ok, but just didn't have the personalities of the original three. It appears they are tinkering with the show again and adding new girls. I've seen the pilot and didn't care for it, but I'll wait to see more before I pass final judgement. The girls are all still alive and kicking in reality world. All three of them have had their own spin-off series. Kendra, Holly's World, and Bridget's Sexy Beaches.
My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance (2004; Fox) This isn't necessarily a show I fondly remember and would love to see again, it just stands out as one of the most insane, yet entertaining ideas of a reality show yet. If I recall correctly, this high-class girl from a snobby family had to convince her family that she had fallen in love with some big goofy oaf and that they were getting married in a short period of time. All she had to do, was get all of her family members to show up at the wedding and she would collect some crazy prize like a half a million dollars. Here's the old FOX-style catch - the Fiance, was actually an actor on the shows payroll and it was his job to constantly mess things up without the chick knowing he wasn't also in this for the money. I think they even had actors playing his family. It was a pretty elaborate set-up that of course ended with lots of screaming and crying and a big oversized check for half a million dollars payable only at the Bank of Self-Degrading.
Shipmates (2001-2003; syndicated) My wife and I used to love us some Shipmates! Chris Hardwick hosted this dating show where a couple was set up on a blind date on a cruise ship for three days. It's one thing to be set up on a blind date, but then to be stuck with the person for three days with no escape - good times! Locally, this came on at 2:00am, which shows you how good the show was. I wish I was kidding when I tell you that back in those pre-TiVo and pre-kid times, the Mrs. and I would set the alarm and get up and watch the show in the middle of the night. Those were the good ol' days. Nowadays I'm not likely to get out of bed at 2 in the morning unless there's a fire...and it would have to be a really, really big fire!
My Super Sweet 16 (2005-present; MTV) When you've got a theme song performed by Hillary Duff you're doing something right, eh!? This rockin' little MTV program shows spoiled teenagers throwing giant parties in honor of themselves. These parties are so way over the top idiotic but it's kind of interesting to see just how rich people (in this case, WAY-too rich people) live their lives and throw around their money. It's a totally stupid show that is completely engrossing and will suck 30 minutes out of your life before you even know it!