It’s difficult to think back to a time when there was no such thing as “reality” TV. Just ten or fifteen years ago, viewers had limited choices of what to watch on television: sit-coms, dramas (usually cop/hospital based), soap operas, sports and movies. Now, with hundreds of channels, thousands of television shows and the craze known as “reality TV,” there is something on TV for virtually any viewing preference.
Most reality shows are competition based, and no matter what you’re “into,” there’s probably a reality TV show out there for you. Anything from cooking, to dating, match-making, baking, dancing, ice skating, singing, endurance challenges, surviving in the wilderness, living in isolation, living like a rock star, being wealthy, training animals, rearing children, towing cars, collecting junk, catching fish, exterminating pests, or to getting clean and sober—reality TV programming has you covered.
Reality TV invites the world into the “private” lives of everyone from famous athletes and celebrities to hoarders who’ve not left their homes in decades and addicts who live to find their next fix. Just a few years ago, you could count the number of reality TV shows on one hand—now, there are endless reality TV shows to watch. With DISH packages, you can choose a few channels or over 250 channels to catch all your favorite reality TV programming.
Favorites in Reality TV History
Of course, there’s no official list of the best reality shows of all time, but you can certainly find a great deal of reality TV talk on the Internet, so here is a compilation of viewers’ favorite reality TV shows of the last several years:
American Idol: Having just concluded its eleventh season, American Idol first aired on FOX June 11, 2002 and quickly became one of the most popular shows in television history. As of 2011, it was the most watched TV series in the Nielsen ratings and the only program to have been number one for seven consecutive seasons. American Idol has made the names Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson household names, and the show has made several young singers hugely famous including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson.
Survivor: Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. Now in its 25th season on CBS, this show is all about surviving challenging conditions such as harsh weather conditions, meager living spaces, sparse food items and none of life’s luxuries like hot showers, warm beds and personal computers. Contestants are divided into “tribes” and challenges are conducted to see who can “outwit, outplay and outlast” to win the coveted title of “Survivor.”
The Real World: First broadcast in 1992, this MTV show that follows “…seven strangers picked to live in a house…” is both MTV’s longest-running show and the longest-running reality TV program in history. The Real World Season 27, set in the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas), will premiere on June 27, 2012; the show has been renewed by MTV through its 28th season.
Dancing With the Stars: Still going strong after just wrapping up its fourteenth season in the U.S., DWTS, as it’s known by its fans, follows celebrities paired with professional dancers as they strut their stuff and compete each week by performing dance numbers such as the tango, salsa, the waltz and other ballroom favorites. Based on the British series, Strictly Come Dancing, versions of the show are also produced in Albania, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam. DWTS “became the world’s most popular television program among all genres in 2006 and 2007, according to the magazine Television Business International, reaching the Top 10 in 17 countries.”
The Bachelor: There are millions of die-hard Bachelor fans out there (mostly women) who believe that true love can be found in a competition show where one handsome bachelor gradually eliminates beautiful women vying for his love and affection each week by not giving her a red rose. If you’ve not seen the show, here’s how the process of finding your “soul mate” on a reality TV show works: Early in the season, the bachelor goes on large group dates with the women, with the majority of women eliminated during rose ceremonies. As the season progresses, women are also eliminated on “one-on-one” dates and on elimination “two-on-one” dates. The bachelor visits the hometowns and families of the final four, has overnight dates at exotic locations with the final three women, and the final two women meet the bachelor’s family. In past seasons, the bachelor has actually proposed to the “winner.”
The mirror of the show, The Bachelorette follows the similar scheme, where there is a pool of men who compete for the affection of one woman.
For those readers dying to know if these love connections last, here’s the history: As of the end of season 16, none of the bachelors has married the woman he “chose.” The bachelor of season 12 ended up marrying his season’s runner-up in February 2010; to this point, it is the only Bachelor season to result directly in marriage. Women are free to leave the show if they’re not interested in the bachelor (which has happened), and one season, a bachelorette was asked to leave due to a relationship with a show’s production team member. Check out this ABC hit to see what keeps everyone tuned in each season.
The Amazing Race: Since 2001, this CBS show has been a fan favorite and is considered one of the most exciting, elaborate and costly reality TV shows ever made. The premise? Teams of two people, who have some form of a personal relationship, race around the world in competition with several other teams. Contestants hope to be the first to arrive at a “pit stop” at the end of each leg of the race to win prizes and to avoid coming in last, which carries the possibility of elimination or a significant disadvantage in the following leg of the race. Contestants travel to and within multiple countries by plane, truck, car, motorcycle, helicopter, bike, boat, bus, taxi, rickshaw, jeep, and by foot. Clues provided along the way lead the teams to the next destination or direct them to perform a task, either as a unit or individually. These challenges are related in some manner to the country wherein they are located or its culture. Each week, a team is eliminated until three are left; at that point, the team that arrives first in the final leg is awarded the grand prize.
With technology like the Hopper from DISH, you won’t miss any of your favorite reality television programming. And now, with the Summer Sales Event with DISH, you can get the Hopper from DISH for Free with the America’s Top 120 package and above. That’s a $99 value that you can get for free when you sign up today. Hurry this event ends soon!