For 20 seasons, Julie Chen AKA Chenbot has thrown houseguests (who may or may not start seeming like replicas of one another) into a house together where there is 24-hour surveillance to compete for $500,000. What fans end up with are alliances, showmances, betrayal, backdooring, and all the controversy that comes with putting real people, however problematic, into a house together under constant surveillance and giving fans access to live feeds the majority of the time. It cultivated an entire community of die-hard fans spread across every social network on the web. It's complete and utter trash, and you'll swear you won't watch it again, but every summer, you'll park your ass right in front of the screen and watch all that salacious drama and messiness.
Catfish: The TV Show
Catfish has become a global sensation and pop culture juggernaut sparking a new term to accommodate the deceptive individuals in the dating scene during the information age. Nev (the hopeless romantic of the two) faces each new case with a bit of optimism, and Max (the cynic and king of the side-eye) quietly expresses his doubts while banding together to help out unsuspecting victims. It's a wild ride of deception and jaw-dropping moments. Every episode you wonder how gullible individuals are still getting catfished by individuals with two stock photos and a broken webcam, but you'll tune in for the inevitable drama that comes when catfish and victim meet with Nev and Max facilitating (or sh!t-stirring). It's not all drama; sometimes there are love stories and inspiring moments too.
The History channel has its very own reality show that is too addictive for words. It's their own answer to a survivalist show that has individuals stranded in the wilderness with limited survival equipment. It's a self-documentation, and all the contestants are isolated from the rest of the world and one another with the exception of their mandatory medical check-ins, and they're competing for half a million dollars. The last person remaining without tapping out or being taken out for medical reasons wins! Dare you not to watch.
The Bachelor Franchise
The things a person will do for love (or the chance to be on television and perhaps be the next star in the next season). Hopeless romantics are drawn to the franchise for the cheesy, fairytale stuff and all the pretty people. There are some who are drawn to the franchise for the drama. No matter what, they are some of the most popular reality shows on the air. They're irresistible.
For 23 seasons, Tyra Banks' hit model show has kept fans riveted with an inside look into the modeling industry. As the years have progressed, the potential models have diversified with seasons including men, transgender models, models over 30, and plus-sized models. The competition is always fierce, but in the end, we watch eagerly waiting to see who ends up on top with a modeling contract and the ultimate win.
Top Chef is another cooking reality competition show that has spanned across multiple seasons and spun off into multiple shows. It's also addictive AF. It's pretty cutthroat, pardon the pun, watching a group of contestants compete fearlessly in front of some of the best that the industry has to offer and get picked off one by one until there is only one winner.
The Amazing Race
Who wouldn't want to race around the world for a million dollars?! There are so many reasons why this show is addictive. For one, there aren't too many other shows where you can catch a glimpse of countries and regions you've always wanted to see from the comfort of your couch. The competition itself can be intense as the pairs of competitors can finish their challenges and still face elimination if they miss the mat by a second. It's a crash course in other cultures from the comfort of your living room, and when it's all said and done, you're left rooting on your favorite team hoping they make it to the last leg of the race and win that million bucks!
America's Got Talent
This summer competition show is one of the best out there. It's also one of the best talent shows on the air. It's hard not to get wrapped up in the heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of everyday people from all over who are pursuing their dream. Some of the talents will leave you awestruck and others are utterly absurd. Throw in the judges' commentary and an audience that will turn quick, and you have some prime viewing.
Initially, MTV tried to pretend as if this series was about the hardships and struggles of teen girls having children at a young age, and they hoped to discourage the behavior. Ha, but really, the show is a complete and utter trainwreck of a show and trash. The message may have gotten lost when you think about the fact that most of the teen girls have a gaggle of kids now, so it's more about watching their individual journeys through parenthood, relationships, and life. Most of them are hot messes, but that is what makes the show so addictive.
Running Wild with Bear Grylls
The only thing better than watching a survivalist reality show is watching one that guest-stars your favorite celebrities. There's nothing like seeing well-known actors, entertainers, athletes, and even a POTUS completely out of their element by spending a day out in the elements with world-renowned survivalist, Bear Grylls. They learn survival techniques, are forced to eat whatever they can find or catch, and they talk about their life with the ever-charming Grylls. Zac Efron's episode is hands down one of the best ones, but every time it's an entertaining (and sometimes emotional) ordeal.
90 Day Fiancé
This show doesn't have a solution to the Immigration debate in this country, but it does have nonstop entertainment that showcases the best and worst of America and abroad. There are scammers, gold diggers, mail-order brides, catfish, and genuine lovers. Americans and their foreign lovers have to juggle the intricacies of the immigration system, disapproving families, cultural differences, language barriers, and so much more while planning and getting married in the 90-day timeframe necessary, as well as deal with the ramifications of all of that beyond those 90 days. Among the fistfights, opportunists, gold diggers, xenophobia and racism, there are real love stories. You just have to dig a little to find some of them.
American Ninja Warrior
One of the most wholesome and intense shows out there, the only one to beat on this reality competition is the obstacle course. All the competitors genuinely root for one another, want others to do well, and support one another. It's a beautiful thing. Also, the stories and competitors are inspiring and will move you to tears. There is nonstop action, and it's as exciting as rooting for your team to win during a sports game, except you're rooting for everyone to win. Plus, it has so many celebrity fans and familiar faces. Stephen Amell took on the course himself before, and the stuntwoman for Supergirl, Jessie Graff, is a beast!
Love and Hip Hop
There is no end to trashy reality shows that will sadly have you mesmerized, and Love and Hip Hop is another example of that. It's a series of hip-hop stars and those involved with them living their lives and being entertaining. What can you expect? Pure, unabashed ratchet behavior that will make you cringe and a whole lot of fighting. You can't take your eyes away from it though.
Naked and Afraid
Why are they naked? Why are they afraid? Why am I sitting here watching this with rapt attention? All things you might ask yourself when you're camped out in front of the screen completely engrossed in this reality show where two strangers, male and female, are left to survive 21 days out in the elements in the nude. Why would anyone want to Adam and Eve it with a stranger for nearly a month? Who knows? But we'll watch it.
Little Women Franchise
Basically, Little Women LA (and it's many spin-offs) is the equivalent of the Real Housewives franchise but with little people. It's the same cattiness, drama, betrayals, backstabbing, and vacations, but with the added drama of health issues and an insider look into the world of those who have dwarfism. The Little Women franchise spans from LA to Dallas, from NYC to Atlanta, and there are a series of other spinoffs and specials that have sprouted from the show, too.
Imagine being given a basket containing cheez whiz, marshmallow fluff, and sardines and being asked to create a gourmet dish that is edible and world-class in a certain period of time, and oh, you're competing with three other people. That's the type of absurd and insanely addictive television that Chopped has to offer. It's pure insanity and intensity, and it's so much freaking fun.
Married at First Sight
The sanctity of marriage is tested with this reality show that has three experts pairing together strangers who won't meet each other until they're standing in front of someone officiating their marriage. Sounds crazy, right? That's because it is. Each couple has to spend a certain amount of time together before they decide if they want to remain married or get divorced. Some success has come from the show, but more so, there are a lot of incompatible individuals who couldn't make it work. If that isn't interesting enough for you, the latest season had a bride detained the night of her wedding because she had a warrant out for her arrest. Yikes! Also, pass me the popcorn!
Dancing with the Stars
Every season like clockwork, fans wait to hear who is the latest B-Z list celebrity who will join the cast and compete for the mirror ball trophy and America's hearts. The dancers are just as popular as their celebrity partners, and fans can't wait to see who gets paired up with whom. For the rest of the season, we get to watch inexperienced celebs grow and flourish in the field of dance and cha-cha, waltz, and salsa their way to a win.
The Real Housewives Franchise
The entire Real Housewives franchise is nothing but trash television, and it's a memes and gif goldmine. There are nonstop catfights and drama galore. It's a slew of well-off women (ironically, many of them aren't even wives), stirring up trouble, doing ritzy, rich people things, and refusing to play nice with one another. On top of that, there is a Real Housewives show for nearly any location. Whether it's Beverly Hills or Potomac, Atlanta or New York -- it's nonstop trash television for anyone's viewing pleasure.
RuPaul's Drag Race
You haven't lived until you found yourself watching drag queens compete with one another to be America's next drag superstar at three o'clock in the morning. It's a show that's easy to get sucked into. What's not to love? It became an instant hit and a pop culture staple for the LGBTQ community. The influx in certain colloquialisms and slang can be attributed to the series, and who hasn't used a gif or meme from the show once or twice?
This reboot of a critical darling and global phenomenon has become every bit as popular as the original. It's the type of show that makes you feel good when you watch it. Five gay guys with their own specialties traveling throughout certain areas and improving the lives of their mostly straight guys who could use the help. It's a show that can give you all the feels.
Contestants have been outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting on this terribly addictive reality show for 36 seasons. It doesn't show any signs of slowing down either, as the series has been renewed for another two seasons. Contestants are dropped on some isolated island or another and divided into teams who compete and pick one another off until a merge has people battling one another until they're one step closer to a million dollar grand prize. It's a physically grueling experience for the contestants, but not so much for viewers glued to the screen.
Say Yes to the Dress
There is no shortage of wedding reality shows, but Say Yes to the Dress has to be the most addictive one of them all. There's something about being part of that experience when a bride finds the perfect dress and is moved to tears. Of course, it doesn't hurt when you get to watch all the drama that happens before they get to that point. Loved ones being brutally honest and extremely vocal about their preferences can make things interesting, and so can picky brides who don't know what they want when it comes down to it.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
This one is the epitome of shameful. It has been 15 long seasons, and we're still keeping up with that Kardashian-Jenner-West whatever the heck else clan. Why? Because the apocalypse hasn't put us out of our misery yet. KUWTK comes to mind when anyone mentions trashy, mindless television that may or may not rot your brain cells. It's the type of show that no one wants to admit that they watch, but many people have to be watching it otherwise it wouldn't be 15 seasons in, you know? If you ever happened across a marathon of this, it'll leave you reevaluating your life and your choices five hours later when you're still watching it mystified and horrified at once.
Little People Big World
For 18 seasons fans have followed the Roloff family through the ups and downs of their everyday life to the point of feeling as though they had become part of this family. The show also addressed dwarfism and what it's like navigating a big world when you're a bit smaller than the average person.
God help us all, they brought back the Jersey Shore cast for a family reunion, and apparently, many, many folks missed their favorite guidos. Older and not necessarily wiser, the majority of the cast slipped into their old habits of drinking, partying, and getting into and stirring up trouble. With kids, fiancees, husbands, sobriety, and potential stints in prison, life has changed a great deal for the cast, but one thing that hasn't changed is their ability to have viewers glued to the screen with their various antics.
Nine seasons in and this one still keeps people riveted. Shark Tank reignited entrepreneurship, and it has so many positive effects on and off of the show. It even cultivated its own phrase known as the "shark tank effect" because innovators who pitched their ideas but didn't get chosen on the show found success as a result of the exposure regardless. The ruthlessness and the go-getter attitude of contestants and judges are addictive.
Trading Spaces is back, and it's like they never left us at all. One of the most entertaining and fun home improvement/design shows ever, words can't describe how awesome it is watching a group of designers and carpenters work with their assigned neighbor to remodel a room from another neighbor's house. There have been some doozies as far as design choices as funds are limited and creativity run amok.
The legacy had to continue somehow, so the folks that brought the world the Jersey Shore did it again with a group of young adults thrown into a house on the shore between Alabama and Florida. What can you expect? The same antics with a new location and a group of people. If you loved JS, then you'll likely find yourself watching this one too.
Escaping Polygamy is fascinating, heartbreaking, and inspiring all at once. This reality show follows sisters who escaped their Kingston cult and now help others who grew up in polygamy escape and start a new life. It's a deep dive into the factions that split from the Mormon Church to form their own cult, one of which is led by a man (imprisoned for the rest of his life for sexually assaulting many young girls), who runs his followers from a jail cell with a strict hand. The women are contacted by individuals wanting to leave, and they orchestrate an escape plan that will typically have you on the edge of your seat and yelling at the television (JUST GRAB THE ESSENTIALS AND GO!)
OutDaughtered follows the lovable Busby family which consists of America's only set of all-female quintuplets. What is day-to-day life with quints? An adorable circus, that's what! It's a wholesome show of a real family with adorable kids that will give you all the warm and fuzzies and put a smile on your face. There's no real shame in loving this one.
All Things Gordon Ramsay (Hell's Kitchen, Master Chef etc.,)
If you're a foodie or like food shows, you've probably come across any number of Gordon Ramsay shows. Hells Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmare are the most notorious of the bunch with Ramsay's infamous potty mouth. The "F" doesn't always stand for food. You can also find a more subdued Ramsay on Masterchef, or a sweet, nurturing, silly, and fun-loving Ramsay on Master Chef Jr. There is no shortage of Ramsay shows, and with them, you can see many sides of this world-renowned Chef on all of them.
Shahs of Sunset
We have Ryan Seacrest to thank for another reality show that kills brain cells. He's good like that. Shahs follows Persian Americans living in Los Angeles as they figure out their lives and respective careers while trying to juggle the modern American life with their traditions and culture. It's basically an Iranian version of the Kardashians or something.