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!