As many of you might know by now, there are many types of reality shows. But there are 3 main ones that stick out. First, there’s the docusoap in which the viewer and the camera are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional lives. Sure there may be some “fly on wall” filming going on, but the “plots” can be compiled for the program that often resemble soap operas. TLC is famous for these kinds of shows but other cable networks air them on, too, like E!, A&E, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, and the History Channel. Some of these may have educational value but a lot of them won’t and may potentially exploit people’s problems. The second type is the hidden camera when random passers by encounter a clearly staged situation. A lot of prank shows fall here. And finally, we have the so-called “reality game shows” where participants are filmed intensively in an enclosed environment while competing to win a prize. And when we think of reality shows, we usually think of these. Though we should remember that producers control the format and can manipulate the outcomes of these shows. So it’s always questionable how “real” reality TV really is. Anyway, on to another bad reality show installment for your reading pleasure.
61. Finding Bigfoot
Station: Animal Planet
Premise: Follows 4 researchers and explorers investigating potential evidence of Bigfoot, a cryptid hominid allegedly living in the wilderness of the United States and Canada.
Why It’s Stupid: To put a short story short, they haven’t found Bigfoot so far. And giving this creature’s alleged dimensions, there should be some considerable evidence like large footprints, feces, and the like. But it’s very likely that this mythological creature doesn’t exist and this show is a virtual wild goose chase. Makes the Discovery Channel’s documentary about an extinct shark seem rather reasonable because at least that animal really existed.
Did it Get Canceled?: No, and it’s set to enter its ninth season this year.
Premise: Follows the lives of engaged women about to get married as they prepare their weddings and get into crazy fights with their families, friends, groom’s family, wedding parties, and service providers.
Why It’s Stupid: It’s incredibly offensive to both sexes on so many levels casting women as crazy and emotional and men as calm but vacant. It also implies the concept that women can be uncontrollable, selfish and bullying harpies who’d do anything to get what they want.
Did it Get Canceled?: No, been on the air since 2004, unfortunately.
Premise: It’s similar to The Amazing Race except that the 3 two-member teams knew only of the final destination and were only given a backpack full of clothes and other essentials. Also, contestants who were not acquainted with one another prior to the show, were assigned to teams. They were then blindfolded and dropped off with a single camera person in a remote location of an unknown country to find their way back home. First team that reaches the Statue of Liberty receives $200,000.
Why It’s Stupid: Let’s just say that the contestants were more worried about getting home in one piece than competing against one another. Also, by the end most of the contestants quit.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, thank God.
64. The Family
Premise: 10 members of an Italian-American family are moved to a mansion with a staff and compete for a $1,000,000 grand prize. Each week, contestants played reward challenges and elimination contests that determined which two people would be up for elimination from play. It worked with a secret Board of Trustees and making a decision on which member would be eliminated. Unbeknownst to the family, this board consisted of the servants.
Why It’s Stupid: Let’s just say that when it comes to portraying Italian-Americans, it makes Growing Up Gotti and Jersey Shore seem less offensive in comparison. Also, runs the risk of tearing families apart over money. If I wanted to see that, I could’ve watched some Agatha Christie adaptation on PBS or The Sopranos.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes.
65. A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila
Station: MTV and Logo
Premise: A group of both men and women vie for the heart of bisexual social media personality, occasional porn star, and recording artist Tila Tequila.
Why It’s Stupid: This was one of the most watched shows on MTV when I was in high school and college. While it did attract the conventional LGBT bashers, it’s to be expected. However, what makes this show stupid is that there were rumors that its star was not only straight but she had a boyfriend already. And it wasn’t helped that the show’s first season winner Bobby Banhart claimed that he never saw Tequila again after the show finished taping and that he wasn’t even given her telephone number.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, after 2 seasons.
66. America’s Next Top Model
Station: UPN, CW, and Vh1
Premise: Aspiring models compete for the title of “America’s Next Top Model,” with the show providing them the opportunity to begin their career in the modeling industry.
Why It’s Stupid: Okay, I understand that appearances matter here since it’s a fashion show but it’s endure long string of criticism from the first season. It’s been criticized for containing elements of cruelty and humiliation as well as some judges’ critiques being “really cruel and cringe-inducing” as well as humiliating and degrading young women according to Yahoo! Shine. The site also noted that the show gave contestants and women viewers unrealistic visions of life as a model and, “always espousing empowerment and female strength and then forcing the contestants into embarrassing scenarios far outside the realm of real-life modeling.” One scenario highlighted in Season 12’s final two contestants “were made to wear bikinis so skimpy that the producers had to blur out Allison Harvard’s butt cheeks” and perform “creepily sexual mud fight,” after which winner Teyona Anderson was “commended for taking her weave in her hand and whipping it around on the runway like a sexy feather boa.” Season 8 caused considerable controversy when Tyra Banks and Ken Mok noticed that most of the girls were unusually heavy smokers. Season 9’s winner Saleisha Stowers was later discovered to have appeared in a Wendy’s commercial, on a catwalk from a Season 6 show, and an episode of the Tyra Banks show prior to participation. This with the show breaking its own rules that a contestant must not appear as a model in a national campaign during 5 years prior to the season they participate in. After filming Season 10, the show’s producers were served with a lawsuit from the Top Model house owner for an estimated $500,000 in damages. This claiming that the contestants engaged in food fights, made holes in walls, caused water damage to the bathroom, damaged a $15,000 chandelier beyond repair, and caused $90,000 worth of damage to an electrical store. Also, claimed that the crew damaged the floor and made holes in the ceiling for lighting equipment. Additionally, it’s said that show hasn’t exactly produced any supermodels and the fact Season 1’s winner Adrianne Curry claiming that part of the grand prize she received such as a Revlon modeling contract was for a much smaller amount of work than was promised throughout the show.
Did it Get Canceled?: No, it’s still on VH1 and on its 23rd season but this time without Tyra Banks as host.
67. Jon and Kate Plus 8
Premise: Follows the lives of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their 8 children that includes a set of septuplets and a set of twins.
Why It’s Stupid: This was a hugely popular show when I was in college as well as one of TLC’s highest rated shows. However, when the Jon and Kate’s marriage began to fall apart and result in their divorce, I kind of got the impression that the two are incredibly awful people who I believe clearly exploited their kids for fame. Criticism and legal inquiry were raised in the children’s participation as to whether or not the children were exploited and under emotional distress. At the time the show filmed, there were no clear laws in Pennsylvania (where the Gosselins resided), regarding a child’s appearance on a reality show. However, PA law does permit kids 7 and up to work in the entertainment industry as long as certain guidelines are followed and a permit is obtained (the kids in the show were about 8 and 5 around the Gosselins’ divorce in 2009, so this law was clearly broken). For instance, kids may not work after 11:30 pm or where there’s alcohol being served. An investigation by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Labor Law Compliance found that, “The activity being filmed was spontaneous. However, children introduced episodes of the television show and transitions. DVDs and other merchandise were sold involving the children’s appearance. Lighting was placed in the home for the show and there was product placement in some episodes.” Thus, under Pennsylvania law, the kids were considered working on the show and the show had to obtain work permits, which it did not do. Nonetheless, both Jon and Kate deny that the show has done any harm on their children even though I most seriously doubt it because a lot of former child stars aren’t known for their well-adjusted lifestyles as adults.
Did it Get Canceled?: It’s still on but as Kate Plus 8.
68. Storage Wars
Premise: Follows professional buyers in California who purchase storage locker contents based on a 5 minute inspection of what they can see from the door when it’s opened. The goal is to turn a profit from the merchandise.
Why It’s Stupid: It was subject to a lawsuit by one of the show’s stars Dave Hester in 2012. In it, he claimed being fired after complaining to the network and the production company producing the show that the series is staged. According to him, the items seen in abandoned storage containers that are acquired by the cast are appraised in advance before A&E plants them in the containers. A&E also pays for storage lockers for the “weaker” cast members, scripts the cast member interviews, and stages auctions still on the show. A&E has denied this.
Did it Get Canceled?: No, it’s still on.
69. 8 Minutes
Premise: Chronicles ex-cop and Pastor Keith Brown meeting sex workers and attempting to convince them to quit their profession within 8 minutes. Each week, Brown would pose as a client in a hotel room. Once she arrived, Brown would try persuading the woman to escape their situation for a better life and promised to help. The “8 minutes” was the maximum amount of time a woman can decide to leave with Brown’s team before her safety was in jeopardy.
Why It’s Stupid: This show has attracted controversy for its storytelling consisting of approaching women with hidden cameras and myths about sex work. Yes, prostitution is a very exploitative business and is a travesty but there’s a reason why there’s a very heated debate over criminalizing it, particularly among feminists and former sex workers. However, this show had Pastor Brown coercing sex workers and sex trafficking victims to leave their trade. Not even Saint Paul would approve of this, because he perfectly understood prostitution was not something sex workers could easily escape from. Instead, Paul simply told men not to buy sex (when he mentions, “fornication” he’s referring to this). Nor would other organizations who are engaged in helping sex workers and human trafficking survivors leave their profession, which is often a long term process involving building strong support networks, accessing economic opportunity, and addressing many obstacles to former employment like childcare and prior criminal records. Sure a lot of prostitutes are victims of circumstance, but you simply can’t “rescue” them, especially if they’re not asking for it. Then there’s the fact this show was subject to an extremely damaging Buzzfeed article in which several of the featured women alleging that after producers promised them to provide professional help and privacy, the show didn’t deliver on either. One woman told the site that producers promised her “medical, dental, housing, and employment” but instead received $200 and radio silence. She would later be forced to return as a sex worker for money and was later arrested on prostitution charges. Another claimed that staffers gave her $400 and she never heard from anyone again. A third woman said her family found out about her job from the show and is now living in a hotel. A fourth claimed the producers told her husband to pose as a pimp.
Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, and thank God.
70. The Bachelor and Bachelorette
Premise: Dating show in which 25 contestants compete for the hand of one eligible bachelor/bachelorette who is expected to select a spouse, mostly at some large estate or some romantic or exotic location. During the course of the season, the bachelor/bachelorette eliminates candidates and proposes marriage in the final selection. However, the shows don’t always follow their designed structure and those variations often provide as source of drama and conflict like an eliminated candidate returning to plead their case, a bachelor/bachelorette distributing fewer or more roses than planned, a bachelor/bachelorette eliminating a contestant outside the normal elimination process like both on a 2 to 1 date, or the bachelor/bachelorette choosing to pursue their relationship with their final selection rather than propose marriage.
Why It’s Stupid: The creator of both shows as well as former contestants have stated that they’re both scripted. Bachelorette Season 4’s winner Jesse Csincsak stated that both series have contestants required to follow producers’ orders and that storylines are fabricated in the editing room. Bachelor Season 13 Participant Megan Parris related, “I don’t think [the producers] showed any real conversation I had with anyone… The viewers fail to realize that editing is what makes the show… You’ll hear someone make one comment and then they’ll show a clip of somebody’s face to make it look like that is their facial reaction to that statement, but really, somebody made that face the day before to something else. It’s just piecing things together to make a story.” She also stated that producers bully and berate contestants into saying specific things that they don’t wish to say. During the 2012 filming of Bachelor Season 16’s Women Tell All episode, what should’ve been a private conversation between contestant Courtney Robertson and one of the show’s producers went public when microphones were accidentally left on during camera takes. The leaked conversation revealed that the producer was encouraging Robertson to fake certain emotions for the camera which she was not feeling. Oh, and both shows’ creator even admitted to developing contestants into characters catering to his audience’s tastes and that they “need [their] fair share of villains every season.” There were even rumors that ABC hired actors to play specific roles on both shows. One Bachelorette cast overtly acted out the show’s written script with the Muppets. If such stuff I’m describing reminds you of Haymitch telling Katniss to fake her feelings for Peeta, it’s certainly no accident because both shows aired before The Hunger Games Trilogy was even written.
Did it Get Canceled?: It’s still on.