Today, we’re paying tribute to three titans of the reality genre, shows that completely changed the landscape and forced us to reevaluate what reality TV could be and could do. Without further ado, we present our mega list of three shows that are absolute classics of the reality canon!
Begun by Simon Cowell over a decade ago now, American Idol is indisputably one of the all-time great reality shows. It was the first and most successful music talent search show, and even though it’s been eclipsed by shows like X Factor and The Voice, none of the shows that followed American Idol have come up with anything near the ratings or breakout artists that came from Idol. Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert: the list of top artists that started out as contestants and went on to consistently chart hits for years after is endless. Compare that to X Factor, which has had Ed Sheeran, One Direction, and…? Yup, that’s all we can think of, too. Now that it’s finally over, we can finally appreciate what a cultural barnstormer it was.
One of the few shows that’s still going strong after seasons and seasons on air, the Bachelor might be one of those TV staples like the Simpsons. It seems that while we may have run out of superstar talent on shows like X Factor, there’s an inexhaustible stream of questionable suitors out there to watch on our screens! Like any long-running show, the Bachelor has had its ups and downs, but even when it’s mediocre, it’s still one of the most entertaining reality shows out there. You can watch it in seriousness, or get together with friends to mock the contestants: it’s a unique show because there are so many ways to enjoy it.
Project Runway was one of the first shows on air that created a conveyor belt between contestants and the real world of tough industry. It was also the first show to be taken really seriously by the fashion industry, and not just reality TV fashion personalities. On the show, contestants (still!) compete for a $100,000 startup prize to get their design business off the ground, as well as Marie Claire features and cash prizes. It’s produced over half a dozen top designers, and it’s a highly entertaining way to see fashion trends flop or soar on screen. Project Runway also deserves kudos for its basis in reality: it even won a Peabody award for being a properly informative show that provided real educational value in addition to entertainment! It’s been renewed through 2018, and we’re not expecting it to go away anytime soon. Here’s to many more years of PR!
What to watch this season:
First on our must-see list right now is a new Netflix reality series: Chasing Cameron
Like a lot of reality shows, we’re not suggesting this as anything like an edifying moral drama, or a glimpse into an unappreciated genius. It’s fascinating because it’s a show that chronicles the astronomic rise of someone whose main talent seems to be taking shirtless selfies and making loud, bro-y youtube videos. Dallas has created a brand that somehow balances the seemingly contradictory shirtless selfie and posts of bible-quoting bracelets that extoll his faith in God, and the series finds him at a time when he’s one of the richest 20-somethings in the world, as well as one of the most-followed social media stars online.
The show follows his journey in creating a MAGCON (meet and greet convention) tour that’s gone all over the world with some popular social media stars. It’s fascinating to anyone who’s not in on their world, because to all appearances, these teen/young adult stars don’t really do anything. So, you might be wondering, exactly what does a tour of social media stars entail? Plenty of drama, rest assured.
Trust us. Even if you’re totally disgusted by social media stardom and people whose fame is mainly due to abs and prank videos and want to take your saw to your screen when you see these people come on, you’ll find Chasing Cameron to be a thoroughly thought-provoking statement about the world we’re living in today.
The Voice also continues to be one of our absolute favorite viewing experiences this year, even as it still struggles to come up with a superstar performer like American Idol or the original UK version of X Factor. You won’t see a household name coming out of The Voice this year (unless we’re very much mistaken), but what you will see is a genuinely consistently talented group of artists being trained up close and personal by the excellent team of judges, who are still made up of Miley Cyrus, Blake Shelton, Alicia Keys and Adam Levine.
It’s an interesting beast as a reality show, because while there’s the high-stakes prize of a recording contract on the line, it’s one of the few series that’s just as good in every episode. You’ll root for your favorite performer and artist team to win, but you’ll also probably enjoy 75% of the other performances, which is hard to say about other talent shows. So, while we know that the Voice team are still getting some criticism for not being able to completely take over the charts, we think they deserve serious praise for how solid a complete series they’re able to put on every year.
It’s also a great vehicle to see the resurgent Miley Cyrus, who keeps rolling right under the punches and has come out from tabloid infamy as a genuinely likeable coach and mentor who’s finally starting to make good on her inarguable talent with her Flaming Lips collaborations and solo work. It says something that a former Disney star who was derided for wearing nipple stickers and bringing lots of sexual innuendo to shows filled with younger fans is now completely at home beside someone like Alicia Keys. Go Voice producers!
Check it out now!