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!
DIY shows were the hallmark of reality TV for years, providing a nice, comforting alternative to the kinds of high-stakes game shows and prize shows which were fun to watch, but which didn’t feel attainable or relevant to a good chunk of viewers. DIY shows focused on real things we could all achieve, whether it was re-doing a porch or trying to build a shed from salvaged material for as little money as possible.
And for DIY enthusiasts, reality TV shows were also a great source for product reviews and recommendations on a realistic scale. Instead of a show like Top Gear, which recommends supercars nobody can actually afford, DIY shows reviewed affordable tools that the average person could really use around the garage.
Case in point: This Old House. This Old House was undisputedly one of the best shows on television, period. It has likable personalities, cool ideas, and overall, a sense of real people taking on tangible, doable projects with creative thinking and a clever use of resources. Like anything that takes off astronomically, though, the producers seem to have totally lost sight of what made the show great in the first place. Now, they seem more interested in writing a big check than getting their hands dirty doing real renovations.
Thankfully, the This Old House website is still a good source of information for usable project plans and power tool reviews. While the people on the show are busy paying for whole work crews to power through the night on multi-million dollar projects, the folks online are doing what This Old House used to do best, testing saws and other tools from the standpoint of the average DIYer and coming up with lots of useful how-to’s to help us all sharpen our skills.
Or look at Kitchen Crashers, which has done unbelievably well for a reality show that’s so wildly unrealistic. They show people having their kitchens completely overhauled by a crew that works round the clock to finish things in just 3 days, with a seemingly unlimited budget. It’s cool to see the results, but reality DIY shows were supposed to be about the human factor, and the painstaking process it takes to get from a to b.
That’s what we’d like to see come back to our screens. So, producers, if you’re listening, start freezing some budgets. Make your teams get creative and resourceful, the way they were in the first years. That’s the spirit that got us hooked, and that’s what it’s going to take to turn DIY TV back to gripping entertainment from the state it’s in now, which is basically a flashy before and after comparison that shows what can happen if you’ve got several million dollars, not what can happen if you’ve got a few talented carpenters and some restrictions to work around.
It’s not all doom and gloom these days, though. We’re loving the latest episodes of Rehab Addict, which bring back the low-budget, high-energy glory of early This Old House seasons, before they started replacing elbow grease with cash. If you miss old-school DIY thrills, give it a shot! Speaking of DIY carpentry and renovation, do check out bestsaws.reviews for the top rated miter saw reviews and a whole lot more!
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!