Seems like we’ve made it to the end of this series on reality shows. Even if you’re a diehard reality show fan, I hope you can walk away from this blog series without being too offended. For I don’t really mean to let you down on some of your favorites. Or at least understand that what you see on reality shows isn’t always real or accurate. But if you’re like me and don’t like reality shows at all, then I hope you can find some satisfaction that the world of such television is about as fake, sleazy, and contrived as you thought it would be. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to understand the concepts behind a lot of these shows as well as the questionable ethics employed by production crews. And yes, there’s a lot of manipulation involved. But what disturbs me most when reading about reality TV is how some networks and producers can sink to disturbing new lows for the sake of ratings. And so I bring you the final installment of my bad reality show series.
91. House Hunters
Premise: Follows individuals searching for a new home with help from a real estate agent. In each episode the buyers must decide between 3 properties, ultimately choosing one before the end of the episode. The show concludes by revisiting the buyers in their new home a few weeks or months later, where they describe the changes they’ve made and the effect their new home has on their life.
Why It’s Stupid: In 2012, a former participant told the Hooked on Houses blog that she and her family already picked the house before taping the show. In addition, she said the remaining 2 houses they viewed on TV were really just their friends’ homes. Another participant stated, “The show is not really a reality show. You have to already own the house that gets picked at the end of the show. But the other houses in the show are actually the other houses we considered buying.”
Did it Get Canceled?: It’s still on and with several spin-offs
92. Call of the Wildman
Station: Animal Planet
Premise: Follows the exploits of Kentucky woodsman Ernie Brown Jr. nicknamed, “The Turtleman.” Aided by his friend and his dog, he operates a nuisance animal removal business while he catches and releases the pesky critters.
Why It’s Stupid:Because it depicts Brown’s Spartan existence in the backwoods of Kentucky, some poverty advocacy groups have expressed concerns that it exploits the stereotypical views of Southerners as being poorly educated, poorly groomed, and impoverished. Then there are detractors stating that while Brown actually does catch animals on his show, the scenarios and animal catching scenes are scripted and faked using appropriated animals instead of naturally occurring events. In 2013, the city of Danville, Kentucky released an investigation report that the city parks department and the crew failed to obtain the required approvals before releasing poisonous snakes into a local public pool in order to stage an apparent poisonous snake infestation there. In addition, the Kentucky Reptile Zoo director identified the species of snakes used in the scene as not indigenous to where the scene was filmed. Thus, making it impossible for the scene to occur naturally. In addition, after a seven-month investigation, Mother Jones published an expose on the show including testimony and supporting evidence that the crew obtained an opossum from a wildlife rescue in order to fake a supposed wildlife infestation at a Lexington fraternity house. They also discussed a baby raccoon dying from an apparent lack of appropriate food and medical care after being in Brown’s supposed possession for several days amongst numerous other actions against Brown and the crew. Since the release of the Mother Jones report, Kentucky state agencies have increased scrutiny of Brown because some records filed with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife that detailed what was captured, released and euthanized on Call of the Wildman appear to have been falsified. The Department of Agriculture also reviewed the situation in order to determine whether Brown or the show’s crew violated the Animal Welfare Act by not having appropriate federal licensing to display regulated animals on television.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but it ran 4 seasons.
93. Gold Rush
Station: Discovery Channel
Premise: Follows various teams of miners mining gold placer deposits in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
Why It’s Stupid: From Thought Catalog: “There has never been a reality show in the history of the world that’s more depressing than Gold Rush. These rugged miners spend tens of thousands of dollars and work grueling hours in order to uncover gold from every corner of the globe. The problem is that most episodes end with the guys spending $80,000 to mine an area and leaving with $400 worth of gold. The show will then cut to their family’s homes being repossessed by the bank as the theme song plays. As awful as that is, I can’t look away.”
Did it Get Canceled?: It’s still on.
94. Armed & Famous
Station: CBS and Vh1
Premise: Follows 5 celebrities as they train to become police officers with the Muncie Police Department in Muncie, Indiana, followed by graduation. After that, the celebrities go on patrol with the same police officers who traditionally ride with the new ones.
Why It’s Stupid: For one, they featured celebrities less famous than who you’d normally see on Dancing with the Stars. Second, a woman named Lyndsay Clements filed a lawsuit over this show claiming her home was wrongfully entered and was questioned by people she didn’t know. LaToya Jackson and Jack Osbourne were named in the suit.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, and after one season.
95. Who Wants to Marry My Dad?
Premise: A dad’s 4 grown children shop for a new stepmother out of 12 ladies for their single dad to marry.
Why It’s Stupid: To be honest, it’s creepy, especially since the women involved are subjected to embarrassing tasks, mind games, lie detector tests, and truth serum while living in a luxurious Southern California mansion. The kids can even watch their dad make out with some of them, too. Sure wanting to help find a good stepmother is one thing. But despite being called “the most romantic show on television,” this is disturbing as hell.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but it ran 2 seasons.
96. Mystery Diners
Station: Food Network
Premise: Follows an organization of Mystery Diners which at the request of certain owners, go undercover at certain restaurants and set up stings and unseen surveillance cameras to catch misbehaving employees in the act.
Why It’s Stupid: For one, this demonizes a group of people who really get treated like shit in the working world since many of them work on minimum wage, are often victims of wage theft, and have no access to health benefits or any kind of paid leave. Second, the mystery diners and restaurant employees featured on the show are all actors who passed auditions regularly held in Phoenix.
Did it Get Canceled?: It’s still on.
97. Alaskan Bush People
Station: Discovery Channel
Premise: Follows the life of a family living deep in the Alaskan wilderness in Chichagof Island.
Why It’s Stupid: The Browns are portrayed as a true wildlife enthusiast Alaskan family who relies on hunting, fishing, and bartering skills to survive the Alaskan wilderness. However, they were recently in court for fraud charges and the LA Times exposed that the Browns doesn’t live the remote, antisocial Alaskan lifestyle the show would lead viewers to believe.
Did it Get Canceled?: It’s still on.
98. Lizard Lick Towing
Premise: Follows a towing and repossession company in North Carolina.
Why It’s Stupid: As Cracked states, “Either its crew is by far the most inept that has ever operated or they’re putting something in the water around their garage (my guess: They replace it with whiskey), because absolutely every single second of their work life is a goddamned monkey brawl. This is partially entirely because a) they operate with all the tact and professionalism of a dog that has just seen a butthole it would very much like to sniff, and b) literally every person they encounter is a fucking psychopath that would make Hannibal Lecter go, ‘Whoa.’” They later add, “If you hit YouTube, you’ll find scene after scene of these situations, and the more you watch them, the more they start to seem like those dumbass skits WWE likes to air between matches, with all the acting ability that involves. Upon closer inspection, this is because — gasp — that’s pretty much what Lizard Lick Towing is.”
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes but it ran 4 seasons.
Premise: Camera crews take a tour into a celebrity’s mansion as well as get a glimpse into their lavish lifestyles. Think of it as Lifestyles of the Rich and famous for teenagers. Show has featured tours of the homes of over 185 celebrities, musicians, actors, and athletes.
Why It’s Stupid: Since this show aired, several celebrities have been accused or willingly used other people’s property and claimed them as their own. In 2004, the real owner of Ja Rule’s house sued MTV for alleging unauthorized taping of the interior and damage to the property caused by Ja Rule’s partying. The first MTV episode with Robbie Williams showcased Jane Seymour’s house as his home that he was renting off her. He later admitted to the con and showed off his real home in a later episode. Then there’s 50 Cent with 3 Ferraris that he claimed were his “whips.” In reality they were owned by a private collector who lent them for him for the episode and some music video work. Those are just a few examples.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but it ran 13 years.
100. The Hills
Premise: Follows the lives of several young women living in Los Angeles, California though it originally focused on Lauren Conrad before she left halfway through and was replaced with Kristen Cavallari. But this show is best remembered for Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt.
Why It’s Stupid: It was often criticized for tending towards a narrative format more commonly seen in scripted genres including soap operas and appearing to fabricate much of its storyline. Among these include sex tape rumors as well as personal conflict and fights between the women. The costume changes were usually preset by the crew. Spencer and Heidi actually eloped in Mexico but had to marry on-camera due to frantic producers and how their marriage wasn’t valid in the US. A lot of their relationship drama was also scripted for the cameras. Kristen Cavallari’s drug problem was made up. Brody Jenner didn’t hook up with anybody. Audrina Partridge and Lauren Conrad didn’t live in that apartment. And if it weren’t for the show, Lauren would’ve ditched Heidi a long time ago.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but it ran for 6 years.