Popular Reality TV Shows

Reality TV has the ability to make us addicted to watch. Let's review some of the most popular American reality TV shows...

Reality TV has the ability to make us addicted to watch. The genre kicked off back in the ’70s, when PBS had the idea that the goings-on of every day people was worthy of its own show. But it wasn’t that popular until later, when the genre was practically reinvented with the inception of The Real World in 1992. A massive reality TV boom occurred in the early 2000s, when reality TV shows flooded our TV screens. Reality TV has become a massive televised circus of competition shows and following the lives of people and celebrities. 

The Real World (1992 – now)

Seasons: 33 + 2 Reunion Editions

It is the longest-running program in MTV history and one of the longest-running reality series in history. It focuses on the lives of a group of strangers, seven to eight young adults, who audition to live together for several months, as cameras record their interpersonal relationships. They are picked to temporarily live in a new city together in one residence while being filmed 24/7. The show moves to a different city each season. After airing on MTV from 1992 to 2017 and on Facebook Watch in 2019, it is in development for future seasons on Paramount+.

The Challenge (1998 – now)

Seasons: 36 + 3 seasons Champs vs. Stars

It is a reality competition show on MTV that is spun off from two of the network’s reality shows, The Real World and Road Rules. It’s a standard competition show in which the group (usually competing as individuals or pairs) compete for power on a week to week basis, with one person eliminated every week. With so many years of history throughout the members of the cast, the strategy on this show is completely unmatched, making it a great watch. The contestants compete against one another in various extreme challenges to avoid elimination. The winners of the final challenge win the competition and share a large cash prize. On April 1 the new season, All Stars premieres.

Survivor (2000 – now)

Seasons: 40

The show features a group of contestants deliberately marooned in an isolated location, typically a tropical setting, where they must provide food, water, fire, and shelter for themselves. The contestants compete in challenges for rewards and immunity from elimination. The contestants are progressively eliminated from the game as they are voted out by their fellow-contestants until only one remains to be awarded the grand prize and named the “Sole Survivor”. In the first half of the game, the contestants, known as castaways, are split into tribes, assigned separate camps at the filming’s location and the tribes face off in challenges. In the second half, the remaining members are joined in one tribe and compete as individuals.

The Amazing Race (2001 – now)

Seasons: 32

It is an adventure reality game show in which teams of two race around the world. The race is split into legs, with each leg requiring teams to deduce clues, navigate themselves in foreign areas, interact with locals, perform physical and mental challenges, and travel by airplane, boat, taxi, and other public transportation options on a limited budget provided by the show. Teams are progressively eliminated at the end of most legs, while the first team to arrive at the end of the final leg wins the grand prize of US$1 million.

The Bachelor (2002 – now)

Seasons: 25

It is a dating and relationship reality TV show, that revolves around a single bachelor who begins with a pool of romantic interests from whom he is expected to select a wife. During the course of the season, the bachelor eliminates candidates each week, eventually culminating in a marriage proposal to his final selection. The participants travel to romantic and exotic locations for their dates. The show does not always end with a proposal. The Bachelor might end up not choosing any woman or he may decide to just have a relationship with the chosen one. As the flagship of the original Bachelor franchise, its success resulted in several spin-offs: The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in paradise, The Bachelor Winter Games and The Bachelor Presents: Listen To Your Heart.

The Bachelorette (2003 – now)

Seasons: 16

The show is a spin-off of The Bachelor and the staple part of Bachelor franchise. The first season featured the runner-up from the first season of The Bachelor. The show revolves around a single bachelorette, usually a former contestant from the previous Bachelor season, and a pool of romantic interests, which could include a potential husband for the bachelorette; it is essentially a gender-reversed version of the parent show. Unlike its parent show, all sixteen seasons of The Bachelorette have ended with a proposal which the bachelorette either accepted or declined.

Bachelor in Paradise (2014 – now)

Seasons: 6

It is a spin-off of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. The show features previous contestants who have been featured on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette as they travel to a secluded paradise. The show begins with an uneven number of women and men. At the first rose ceremony, the men are given a rose to hand out to a woman they’d like to spend more time getting to know in paradise. The women left without roses are immediately sent home. New men are then brought to the beach, so at the next rose ceremony, women can give a rose to a man they’d like to spend more time with and the remaining men are sent home. For seven weeks, this set up alternates between new men or new women joining the cast. In the end, the remaining couples decide if they want to pursue their relationship outside of the show or part ways. The show has seen many engagements.

Are You the One? (2014 – now)

Seasons: 8 + spin-off Second Chances

It is a reality television show on MTV, in which a group of men and women are secretly paired into couples by producers, via a matchmaking algorithm. While living together, the contestants try to identify all of these “perfect matches.” If they succeed, the entire group shares a prize of up to $1 million. All couples in the first seven seasons were male-female, while in the eighth season a contestant’s match could be someone of any gender. Over the course of each season, the contestants go on dates with partners determined by competitions and have the opportunity to learn in the “truth booth” if a given couple is a correct match. At the end of each episode, the contestants pair up in a “matching ceremony” and learn how many perfect matches they have, but not which matches are correct.

The Voice US (2011 – now)

Seasons: 20

It is an international reality TV singing competition franchise. The show’s format features five stages of competition: producers’ auditions, blind auditions, battle rounds, knockouts and live performance shows. In blind auditions the four coaches, all noteworthy recording artists, listen to the contestants in chairs facing away from the stage so as to avoid seeing them. If a coach likes what they hear from that contestant, they press a button to rotate their chairs to signify that they are interested in working with that contestant. If more than one coach presses their button, the contestant chooses the coach he or she wants to work with. The winner of the finals is named “The Voice” – and receives the grand prize of a recording contract and a cash prize.

America’s Next Top Model (2003 – 2018)


It is areality TV show and interactive competition in which a number of aspiring models compete for the title of “America’s Next Top Model” and a chance to begin their career in the modeling industry. The show was created and produced by Tyra Banks and also employs a panel of two or three additional judges, a creative director and a runway coach. Contestants are judged weekly on their overall appearance, participation in challenges, and best shot from that week’s photo shoot; each episode, one contestant is eliminated, though in rare cases a double elimination or no elimination was given by consensus of the judging panel. Makeovers are administered to contestants early in the season and a trip to an international destination is scheduled about two-thirds of the way through the cycle.

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