Since it’s debut about twenty years ago, reality shows have become the norm on our television schedules. It is therefore, not surprising that this genre has left no television stone unturned.
Tough Enough (2001-2015) originally aired on MTV before moving to UPN and then the USA Network. The premise is pretty much the same as any competition reality show: thousands of potential contestants send in their tapes. Of those thousands, twenty three are chosen to compete to become professional wrestlers. Over the course of the season, the contestants are eliminated until the winner(s) are chosen as future WWE superstars.
Though I only watched this show while it was on MTV, it was interesting while it was on the air. Granted, it was aimed specifically at the WWE fan base and not the general audience, it was still compelling as a television program. Granted, as time has gone by, it has become just another reality show.
We all know that there is no “reality” in reality shows. They make look like they are made on the fly, but they are just as slickly produced as fictional television programs.
Jersey Shore (2009-2012) is one of tent poles of the recent MTV schedule. The show follows eight housemates of Italian descent as they live and work together during the summer in Seaside Heights in New Jersey.
There are few television shows that I hate with a passion. Jersey Shore is one of them. Not only is it trashy beyond trashy, it is a waste of brain cells and precious television time that I will never get back.
Do I recommend it? Let me put it this way. No is the gentler way of describing how much I dislike this television program.
Dating shows seems to be one of the most popular within the reality show genre. The question that I think a viewer has to ask is if the show is “real” or staged for the sake of good television?
A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila aired on MTV in 2007. The premise of the show was the same as an reality dating show, with one exception. The star of the show, Tila Tequila, was bisexual. 16 straight men and 16 gay women competed for her affection. At the end of the series, like all reality dating shows, the final competitor was chosen as the star’s significant other.
As much as I dislike reality dating shows, I really disliked this one. The creative team had an opportunity to give a voice to the LGBTQ community. While it appeared that this was another opportunity to open the doors of communication and acceptance, it was in reality just another dating show that took advantage of the “exoticism” of the LGBTQ community to increase ratings.
To the average audience member, it appears that those who earn a living by performing and have the title of “celebrity” live a charmed life. But the reality is far different from the image that is presented to the world.
The MTV show, MTV Diary (2001-2014) followed the lives of celebrities as told from their perspective. Shot documentary style, each episode tells the story of the celebrity highlighted in each episode as they go about their day.
What I liked and still like about MTV Diary is that unlike the slick, produced programs that tells is a “day in the life of…”, MTV Diary was raw, sometimes emotional and personal.
There was a point in history when your parents had a say in whom you would marry. But times have changed. However, that does not mean that our parents don’t have an opinion about our love lives.
This is the premise of the MTV series, Parental Control (2006-2010). The parents of the subject of each episode are unhappy with their child’s current romantic partner. After going through a series of interviews, the parents select two of the interviewees to go on a date with their child. At the end of the episode, the subject of the episode chooses between their current partner or one of the dates that their parents selected.
Looking back, Parental Control was an interesting show. The concept of bringing the parents into the process of choosing their child’s romantic partner was certainly different among the reality dating shows that were part of MTV’s schedule at the time. But at the end of the day, it was just another reality dating show.
Practical jokes are funny, the only catch is that they are funny when you are not the one who the joke is being played on.
Punk’d (2003-2015) aired on MTV for most of the time that it was on television. Hosted and produced by Ashton Kutcher, it was the Candid Camera of the MTV generation. The premise of Punk’d was that Kutcher would play elaborately staged pranks on his celebrity friends while the audience got their chuckles in at home.
Among the shows that was part of the MTV lineup during the early 00’s, Punk’d ranks high (which is not saying much). It was not a mind numbing reality show, but it was enjoyable and entertaining, at least for the viewers at home.
Imagine, if you wanted to do something that you thought was impossible. Then you had the opportunity to do what which you thought would be impossible.
Made aired on MTV from 2002-2014. Each episode followed a young person as he or she goes on a journey to do something that they have wished to do, but have been unable to previously. Aided by a “Made Coach” who is an expert in the field, the subject of the episodes works to reach what they thought they could not do.
Among the pantheon of reality shows, Made stands out. It’s not some frothy show about the wealthy, the famous or finding a date. It’s about the very difficult journey of reaching your goal, no matter how hard it gets.
For a decade, Total Request Live (1998-2008) or TRL for short, was a staple of MTV’s schedule. Hosted by Carson Daly for most of the original run, TRL was sort of American Bandstand for the MTV generation. Guided by the fans, the crux of the show is the countdown of the most popular music videos of the day. In addition to the countdown, artists and actors would stop by, often to promote their latest project.
For a generation, TRL was appointment television. Airing just after school had ended, it gave us a chance to show our love to our favorite artists and perhaps act like a crazy teenage fan-boy or fan-girl.
One’s home often speaks volumes about the person who lives there.
Room Raiders aired on MTV from 2004-2006. The premise is as follows: three men or women have their homes raided by a potential date. The contestants watch from a van as this man or woman visits their home. The residents either have pictures of themselves removed or covered. After the room raider has visited all three properties, their three potential dates inspect their homes. Then the room raider makes a decision on who to go out with.
Among the dating reality shows that littered the MTV schedule in the early 2000’s, this show was one of the more interesting ones. It was interesting because it felt more organic (well, as organic as a dating reality show can get) than some of the other dating reality shows that MTV aired at the time.
When it comes to dating and romantic relationships, our parents play a part in whom we may or may not end up with.
From 2004 to 2006, this was the premise of the MTV show, Date My Mom. The premise of the show is as follows: The subject of this particular episode goes out with three moms. During their “date”, the moms try to persuade the young man or woman to pick their son or daughter for a date. At the end of the episode, one mother is “chosen” and watches as their child goes of on their date.
Of all the reality dating shows that was on MTV back then, this show was the worst. Not only did it feel fake, but it felt like everyone involved signed up just to get on TV, not to genuinely find a date for themselves or their child.