Skip to main content

Best Reality TV Shows: A Junkie's List of Guilty Pleasures


I am a self-proclaimed reality tv junkie and while I am fully aware that most of these shows are subject to major editing and not really completely reality, they are just entertaining to watch! Here's my list of the top 10 best reality tv shows, dead or alive, in no particular ranking order.


16 and Pregnant

16 and Pregnant is a series that started in 2009 and still continues to air on MTV. It follows young girls on the path to motherhood. They have a wide range of girls on the show and depict the different options that are afforded to women when family planning. Usually, these pregnancies are not planned and it allows the viewer to watch as the girls make tough decisions about relationships they are in, the changes a baby will have on their life and the effect it has on their families.It follows these girls from pregnancy to labor and ends at the baby's first few months. The series finale is a reunion show hosted by Dr. Drew Pinksy. 16 and Pregnant has since added a spin-off show "Teen Mom" which brings the girls back for their first year of motherhood.

♥♥♥ : While the premise is great, most of the families depicted are the same in their dynamics. The soon-to-be fathers in the show are usually deadbeats that don't stick around, with a few exceptions.


America's Toughest Jobs

America's Toughest Jobs only aired one season on NBC, and that's a shame. It was a show that took a group of people all over the country to do some of the toughest, most dangerous jobs out there. This is a reality show that had a prize attached. The show pooled together the salaries of each job and the last contestant standing, won it all. The contestants worked in some unusual jobs, like crab fishing and oil drilling and had to compete in challenges related to that job to stake their claim to stay on the show.

♥♥♥♥ : The show may be canceled, but I give it a 4 for originality and amusement. It showcased some jobs that viewers may have overlooked or may not have known existed. It still had drama between contestants, but in the end, most of them quit their regular jobs and pursued something a little less conventional as a result of their time on the show.


Beauty and the Geek

Beauty and the Geek was a social experiment reality show aired on the CW. The show ran for five seasons. It's premise was simple, pair a young woman who relied mainly on her looks and a young man who relied on his brains and see what happens. The show took the contestants on challenges that the pair competed as a couple to win the grand prize of $250,000. This usually consisted of the beauties being challenged in an academic way and the geeks being challenged in a social/fashion way.

♥♥♥♥ : Beauty and the Geek was a show that dared to put the popular pretty chick with the ugly duckling and see what happens. In most cases, it was reported that the contestants learned a lot about themselves and had a better appreciation for someone in different social situations than themselves.


Biggest Loser

Biggest Loser is still airing on NBC and going strong. This show finished it 9th season just last month. The show focuses on weigh lose of the contestants and has inspired people all over the nation to get up off the couch and get healthy. The show has seen dramatic changes in contestants, with the help of trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. The show is so successful it has been adapted in many other countries. The Biggest Loser participates in the Pound for Pound Challenge and donates food to local food banks for families in need.

♥♥♥♥♥ : With a bigger message than just winning money, the Biggest Loser is an inspiration and a heartfelt show about getting healthy. It has branched out into other venues like cook books, work out videos, and Wii games, all with the hopes of helping America get healthy.


The Buried Life

What would you do before you die? The Buried Life aired on MTV in January 2010 and was only given 8 episodes. It was a show about a group of friends who traveled around America to fulfill their own version of a 'Bucket List' or 100 things to do before you die. For each thing they marked off their list, they would do something for a stranger - helping them complete something on their own list of hopes and dreams. The boys attempted things like "Deliver a Baby" and "Play Basketball with Barack Obama", some of their schemes worked, some of them did not. The show inspired viewers to get out into the world and give back to those in need. It showed that anything is possible and if its not, at least you tried.

♥♥♥♥ : This show was not based on drama and gimmicks. These boys had some ridiculously difficult things on their list and they did some amazing things for other people. With a show premise based on giving back and following your dreams, its sad this show hasn't had a second season yet.


The Colony

The Colony is a show that started in 2009 and the second season is scheduled to hopefully start filming in August of 2010. This show aired on the Discovery Channel and took an interesting look at survival during post-apocalyptic times. The Colony took 10 people out to the edges of downtown Los Angeles and re-created a scene for survival. Each person had a skill that was helpful to their survival and they showed tips on how to live and adapt when the world has died around them. They took up projects; living and working together. The participants in this experiment tackled issues like security, psychology, and survival. They built generators, foraged for supplies and food, as well as devising ways to cook, shower, and care for injuries and illness.

♥♥♥♥♥ : Viewers not only got to watch as these very different personalities worked together and combined their skills but also learned unusual ways to survive should the need ever arise!

Scroll to Continue

The Locator

The Locator is aired on WEtv and follows Troy Dunn on his quest to reunite long lost family members. He has been helped over 40,000 people find people they have been searching for and reunites them in this heartfelt show. The show follows him as he finds cases, with the help of his mother and the rest of his team, watching them search city records, birth records, and DMV. He interviews the people searching and the ones found and in the end, hopefully reunites them with each other.

♥♥♥ : From daughters looking for fathers to mothers looking for sons, Troy Dunn has a knack for finding people. He puts his talents and resources to good use in this show, bringing families together for questions to be answered and family secrets to be revealed.



Solitary is another social experiment, aired on Fox Reality Channel. While most of the shows on this channel are far-fetched and ridiculous, Solitary is the standard of great reality tv. The contestants are pushed to their limits in solitary confinement, with only a sadistic computerized companion named Val to keep them company. Nine people are put in soundproof pods and their lives are taken over by physical and mental challenges. Viewers watch as Val puts her human subjects through an assortment of grueling tasks, all while depriving them of sleep, food, and a shower!

♥♥♥♥♥ : Isolation from other contestants, outside world, family and friends. The contestants are given a number and are not referred to by name. The entire environment is controlled by the outside; the temperature, the food, the sleep. Built to give a person the full experience of solitary life, viewers get to see what happens when all you have is yourself to rely on.


So You Think You Can Dance

So You Think You Can Dance is a competition reality show airing on Fox. It premiered in 2005 and is still going strong. The contestants audition in different cities and the best dancers are chosen to compete. Each week the dancers are given a different dance style, sometimes styles they have never danced before, and paired with choreographers to learn a routine in just a week. They perform live for the audience and then there are the votes. I usually don't advocate for voting shows, and I don't actually vote - but the show has some beautiful dance routines and amazing dancers who perform them. The show focuses on growth of a dancer and inspiring the viewer to take a journey through art.

♥♥♥♥♥ : With styles ranging from contemporary to Krump these dancers are put to the test. They compete to be America's Favorite Dancer, and while it can feel like a popularity contest sometimes, the show itself has done great things for the art of dance.


Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss started airing on CBS in 2009. The show followed executives of major corporations as they infiltrated their businesses as regular workers. They were put to the test of doing the jobs they expect out of their employees and the show depicted the difference between boss and employee. Undercover Boss covered bosses from all sorts of companies from 1-800-Flowers to Hooters. Viewers watched as the Boss was able to meet some of their working class employees and generally found out the life they were living. Learning the challenges and usually emotionally difficult situations their employees are in, while also getting to experience the way the company works for employees opposed to those running it.

♥♥♥♥ : Not only is it a show viewers can relate to, Undercover Boss also amusing and emotional. It shows that it takes a real boss to get down in the trenches with their workers and see what the reality of the situation is. In most cases, the employees were given compensation, raises, perks from their bosses to make their experiences better; not only at work but in their personal lives.


Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on April 18, 2014:

@logical - glad it was helpful! :)

Logical on April 08, 2014:

Great list, Thanks to you i discovered the beauty of Solitary & beauty and the geek.

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on July 22, 2012:

@mommyloves2write - I actually really enjoy Shark Tank as well. I would add Secret Millionaire to this list now too.

mommyloves2write on May 16, 2012:

I love Shark Tank. I enjoy seeing people's dreams come true!

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on February 29, 2012:

@melchi - I am always up for new readers and your comments are well received. Thanks so much for stopping by and I am so glad to have found another SYTYCD fan! :)

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on February 29, 2012:

@nicolerealitytv - Thanks for coming by and commenting. I will be sure to check out the site you provided, looks like something I would enjoy!

Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on February 25, 2012:

Interesting hub, thanks! Voted up :) I think Undercover Boss is one of the best reality shows ever written. So You Think You Can Dance is also one of my favourites.

NicoleRealitytv from Los Angeles on February 19, 2012:


You and I have a LOT in common. Please go to The only show we both seem to like is Undercover Boss, but who cares?!?!?!? We both understand our fascination with reality TV :)

fitnesszone from New York on November 25, 2011:

America's Toughest Jobs the best, 16 and Pregnant the worst.

BrittanyDeMauro from Hiding in SC but originally from NJ on September 06, 2011:

I thought 'Beauty and the Geek' was a great concept until they brought in Sam Horrigan who I recognized from TV movies like 'Escape to Witch Moutain' and 'Brink' as a "contestant". Cheapened the "reality" by bringing in an actor.

L Clifford from Seattle, WA on August 21, 2011:

Thanks for the post. I must admit I am a closet reality T.V. fan...

htodd from United States on August 21, 2011:

Great post..Thanks

iamrahul from India, West Bengal, Kolkata on July 19, 2011:

nice writing :) cheerz

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on August 26, 2010:

Coaster, I am glad to have your input. I was thinking of starting the Masterchef show but I haven't gotten around to it. I don't think it would fit on my DVR ;P

Coaster from All around Australia on August 26, 2010:

good stuff. I am not a real fan of many of these. I have watched the Australian versions of biggest loser and so you think you can dance. Masterchef is my fav at the moment. What I do like is junky tv shows, just started seeing I love lucy - I remember it as a kid but I don't remember it that bad :)

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on August 20, 2010:

Thanks for reading Shawn! I appreciate your kind words. I am glad you enjoyed it. :)

Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on August 18, 2010:

Congrats on your Hubnugget nomination! This great hub is deserving of the nomination.

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on August 16, 2010:

Denise - I completely understand. Most people don't care for reality tv shows, its an acquired taste ;P Thanks for reading!

Denise Handlon from Michigan on August 16, 2010:

Hello rgarnett-welcome to hubpages. I usually don't watch the reality shows, however, I have watched the locator (once) which was interesting, and I do enjoy catching the Biggest Loser, when I am home (work mid. shift) Congratulations to you on your hubnugget nomination!

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on August 16, 2010:

Thanks for the congratulations everyone and for reading. I appreciate your comments!! :)

bayoulady from Northern Louisiana,USA on August 16, 2010:

congrats on the nomination, and good luck! Great hub!

mquee from Columbia, SC on August 15, 2010:

I must confess that I have only seen parts of a few of these shows, so much is unfamiliar to me. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your nomination.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2010:

Congrats on you nomination. I never heard of some of those but there's a couple I watch regularly. Nice idea for a hub.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on August 14, 2010:

I've seen the Big Loser...pretty impressive what the results are after joining the show. :)

Congratulations to your Hubnuggets nomination! Please don't forget to vote and ask your friends and family and reality tv fans to vote for your hub! :) This way please:

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on August 14, 2010:

Fetty - Thanks for reading even if you hate reality tv! I completely understand. Its like a guilty pleasure of mine ;P LOL, the hearts really do make the article don't they!?

fetty from South Jersey on August 13, 2010:

I hate reality TV. I believe it came into being right around the writers strike . Producers were going to show those no good writers how well they could get along with out them. But, I loved your choices and especially like the way you clearly state your opinion with the little hearts . Great hub with a lot of great choices ( shows).

Congratulations on your nomination.

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on June 30, 2010:

Prasetio - You might try to catch some of these shows online, if you have access. :) That is if you want to get addicted to reality tv.

Jennshealthstore - I completely understand, apparently its a compulsion of mine! :P

Jennifer Bates from West Palm Beach on June 30, 2010:

Nice hub. But I don't dare to get into too many reality shows because I do not want to get addicted lol. I do love American Idol and So you think you can dance!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on June 30, 2010:

Good information for you. Unfortunately, I life far away from America. Thanks for share with us.

Rachael Fields (author) from KC, MO on June 29, 2010:

I'm glad that you liked it. I do admit to liking The Bachelor and the Bachelorette as well, these were more 'inspirational' and less drama filled for the list :P LOL on the Dog: the bounty hunter - I have never really gotten into that one, but I understand watching some that others just don't get, so more power to you Franny!

hubber-2009 from India on June 29, 2010:

well written.. that too joined less than 2 days..

Julie-Ann Amos from Gloucestershire, UK on June 29, 2010:

We get "undercover boss" and "beauty & the geek" here in the Uk and I quite like them. I confess to loving "The bachelor" (Though goodness only knows why!) and "The Apprentice. Plus we are currently watching the last ever UK Big Brother.

FrannyLuvsAll on June 29, 2010:

I also watch a fair amount of reality TV and SYTYCD is one of my favorites as well. I also really love (guilty pleasure!) Dog: The Bounty Hunter. That show is freaking hilarious and I love the background of scenes in Hawai'i.

Related Articles