40 Years of Favorites: The Reality of It All

This is a story about a man celebrating forty years of life on Earth, who decided to write a series of blog posts chronicling his favorite moments…

So, in case you haven’t guessed, this top ten list is about favorite reality shows. These days, it’s hard to imagine television without the this fairly new genre, even though it’s mostly scripted these days. I mean, you know its cultural impact when the Primetime Emmys add the genre to its lists of awards. But unlike the Emmys, all these entries have won me over in some fashion.

  1. United Shades of America. CNN may trot this as a documentary, but it is a reality show. It may generate the drama that keeps fans glued to their seats, but the struggles are very real. W. Kamau Bell, the host, travels across the country and brings a comedic perspective on the makeup of our nation and backs it up with real-world stats. It’s not always pretty. Still, Bell gives up hope that we can be a better nation with a better understanding of who we are. Highly recommend you check it out.
  2. The Real Housewives franchise. I admit, I like this franchise, and I challenge anyone who says I shouldn’t. The squabbles and backstabbing that unfold are hilarious. It makes my family drama seem tame. But they have their tender moments, too. And at the end of the day, these ladies can be relatable, minus the extravagant income. My favorite group of housewives live in Atlanta, of course. The NYC housewives are close, followed by the Potomac crew.
  3. 90-Day Fiancé. In my opinion, if you want drama in finding true love, forget The Bachelor/Bachelorette. I think you should turn to this TLC show. Finding a balance amidst the clash of cultures is really dramatic. Especially when you don’t know the other’s true intentions. If you follow the show, you’ve seen cases where the partner coming to the States have revealed their ulterior motives. And I’m liking the next chapter where US citizens are going to their partner’s country. It’s quite the culture shock and you’re learning valuable lessons, although they ramp it up for TV ratings.
  4. Vanderpump Rules. Lisa Vanderpump May be the front runner of this reality show, but the employees at SUR are the real stars. Watching them makes me feel young and reminds me of a time when I was trying to figure out life as young adults. And as much as my wife and I sometimes wish we could be that young again, we wouldn’t trade it for all the craziness they get themselves into. Also, we’re crazy about the show’s intro theme.
  5. Kitchen Nightmares. I miss Gordon Ramsay. I miss this show. I like the original version, but the American version on FOX is what got me interested. Watching Ramsay tear these owners a new one the only way Ramsay can is hilarious. And if you’ve seen it, you know the one episode that stands out.
  6. Southern Charm. Whatever your definition of “Southern hospitality” is, don’t expect it on this show. The cast live a rather lavish lifestyle and social graces are pretty much thrown out the window. I like how it isn’t just about the young adults. There are some mature members in this cast, but I use the word “mature” loosely. And the New Orleans cast is starting to grow on me. It has a multicultural cast as well as members of different age ranges.
  7. My 600-Pound Life. Another reality show that functions more like a documentary. And considering the epidemic going on here, I doubt this show will run out of material, unless Dr. Now retires. I find it interesting how these patients try to fool Dr. Now. I’m sure he’s seen it all, so he’ll know when you’re spouting BS to him. I like that stories have a happy ending in the beginning. But how they continue after the cameras stop rolling is a different story.
  8. The Real World franchise. The franchise that started it all. Seven strangers in one house. Roommate drama for the world to see at its finest. And it only got better when they were given jobs, forcing them to work together. New Orleans and Chicago were my favorite seasons. I haven’t seen much of the show’s latter seasons for various reasons, especially when they changed the run time to one hour, because I suppose a half-hour is not enough to tell good stories. But now that it’s moving to Facebook Watch, it might be time to pick it back up. Especially now since the next season will be in Atlanta, finally.
  9. My Big Fat Fabulous Life. Whitney Way Thore is someone who doesn’t let life stop her just because she’s obese. And that is what this show highlights. She’s a real person who strives to thrive in whatever situation. What I really like is the interactions with her parents, especially Babs, Whitney’s mother. My wife and I joke about how some parents should have their own show. Babs is one of those parents.
  10. Naked and Afraid. I just started watching this Discovery show and I have to admit, it’s got me hooked. To survive twenty-one days with the bare minimum, literally and figuratively, is a daring adventure; especially with a complete stranger as your partner. Survival skills are a must, but I think it also takes faith and an iron will. I don’t know if I could survive that long with all the dangers in the wilds.

Show I Wish Would Return: Road Rules. Kind of a spin-off of The Real World, this series takes strangers on journeys throughout the world, accomplishing different tasks to reach the next destination. The first season was, I think, the best because it introduced something new. The Maximum Velocity Tour runs a close second. And while The Amazing Race took that concept and expanded on it, I would like to see it remade to tailor this generation.

I love reality TV, no matter how scripted it is. There’s a show for everyone, it seems. Wholesome, crazy, competitive, dramatic. As a writer, there’s plenty of material to draw inspiration from. What better way for the reader relate to your characters? If they haven’t experienced it, then they tell you who has on their favorite show.


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