Reality TV has been at the forefront of American television for quite some time. Whether it’s a competition series like Survivor or Big Brother or simple reality series following the lives of favorite families, America likes to keep it real.
The popularity of the genre has skyrocketed so much to the point where networks like Bravo are solely dedicated to reality television content. However, there are a solid number of reality series that make some of television’s biggest scripted dramas seem like comedies.
1 ‘Catfish: The TV Show’ (2012 – present)
Perhaps one of the most current and iconic reality TV shows is Catfish: The TV Show, which is a series from the 2010 documentary of the same name. Every episode of the series follows a different person who is unsure whether the person they’re speaking to online is a catfish or a real person—insane.
This series is truly dramatic and is a bit entertaining in terms of secrets and revelations. Surprisingly, Catfish might bring the waterworks, too, with all the heartbreak that happens in the show.
2 ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ (2018 – present)
Celebrity Big Brother is exactly what it sounds like: All of the insanity of regular Big Brother but with celebrities as the house guests! In this series, a bunch of celebrities (from across the country and in any field) live together in a house where they are constantly watched and listened to.
Celebrity Big Brother is by far one of the most intense reality TV shows in terms of drama. When a bunch of celebrities live together and vie for the public’s attention, there are bound to be numerous arguments.
3 ‘FBoy Island’ (2021-)
FBoy Island is by far one of the newest and most volatile reality series. The concept revolves around three women as they try to work out which of their 24 suitors are “nice guys” instead of “f-boys.” The three women go on dates, eliminate options, and widdle down their options to the perfect guy.
The series is hosted by comedian Nikki Glaser and has a top prize of $100,000. This concept is most definitely the most current but still is a bit off the charts in terms of what happens on the show.
4 ‘Are You the One? (2014 – present)
Are You the One? Is a reality TV series that also follows a bunch of young singles as they try to find love. In the show, a group of men and women are secretly paired into couples by the producers (who use an algorithm). As they live together, the constants try to find the matches.
If they succeed, the entire group wins $1,000,000. This series is quite intense, and contestants are even forced to go on dates with each other due to the “fate button.”
5 ‘Selling Sunset’ (2019 – present)
Selling Sunset is an American reality television series created and produced by Netflix. The series is not competition-based, and instead follows the Oppenheim Group, a high-end real estate company in Los Angeles.
The show keeps tabs on all of the drama that these agents have with each other, and it gets quite heated near the sunset! Selling Sunset is definitely worth the watch for fans of the Kardashiansand that style.
6 ‘Jersey Shore’ (2009 – 2012)
Jersey Shore is one of the most well-known and renowned reality television series of all time and ran on MTV from 2009-2012. The series follows 8 roommates who live in a vacation home in New Jersey.
There was some controversy regarding how they portrayed Italian Americans but nevertheless became a pop culture phenomenon. While Jersey Shore is not necessarily current in comparison to other reality shows at the moment, the show is an example of classic reality television.
7 ‘The Bachelor’ (2002 – present)
The Bachelor is another American dating reality show that first debuted in 2002. The series follows a single bachelor who begins the show with a large group of possible romantic interests.
By the end of the show, he’s expected to have picked his wife. As the show goes on, he eliminates more contestants until he finds the one! This show is steamy and surreal. Romantics will absolutely adore what The Bachelor has to offer.
8 ‘The Bachelorette’ (2003 – present)
Similar in concept to The Bachelor, The Bachelorette is the gender-swapped version. This series revolves around a single bachelorette who usually tends to be a former contestant as they try to find the right man from a pool of at least 25 of them.
Once again, this type of reality show is definitely more romantic and exciting for true romantics than others. Love is always in the air on The Bachelorette.
9 ‘Dance Moms’ (2011 – 2019)
Dance Moms is easily one of the most famous reality television shows of the generation. The series follows the Abby Lee Dance Company, owned and run by Abby Lee Miller, as they train and travel to competitions across the company.
Most importantly, Dance Moms focuses on the life of the mothers of these incredible dancers and the drama that they constantly deal with. Dance Moms is so worth the watch—the culture has not been the same since its release.
10 ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ (2010 – present)
Perhaps the most famous reality TV series of all time is The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. This series follows the extravagant lives of several high-end women living in or around Beverly Hills, California. This series is one of Bravo’s most successful series and is the 6th Real Housewives installment.
There are fights, drama, and lots of CA-style facelifts. For anyone new to reality TV—this is the premier series to start watching!
NEXT: 10 Best Reality Competition Shows Returning In 2023