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The 10 Most Degrading Reality TV Shows (So Far)

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Reality TV is no longer just a joke. What was once an embarrassing oddity has become a tidal wave of programming. Cheap production costs and a seemingly endless supply of people willing to debase themselves in the pursuit of ‘celebrity’ make it likely that Reality TV will stay as much a staple of network broadcasts as situation comedies and police dramas.

There have been so many different shows on the air in the last few years, that it’s hard to determine the absolute worst. Still, I’ve decided to make a list of the 10 most degrading reality TV shows so far.

To narrow the field down some, I need to define what I’m excluding from the list. No celebrity shows, such as The Surreal Life, Celebrity Mole, The Anna Nicole Show or The Osbournes are included because it could be argued (barely) that the cast members have a real career incentive to participate. I’ll include The Simple Life in that group, even though I’m not sure why Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are considered celebrities. Celebrities seeking more notoriety are definitely a reality of life, but I’m sticking with amateurs for my list.

Also, I’m only including shows which involve some form of competition. Many talk shows, such as the regular ‘paternity test’ episodes involve non-celebrities, are about real life, and are definitely degrading to the participants, but Reality TV really should have a game show feel, I think.

So here’s the list, with comments, of the 10 most degrading, competitive, non-celebrity Reality TV shows:

10. The Real World/Road Rules Competitions
It isn’t degrading, all by itself, to be a cast member on one of the seasons of The Real World or Road Rules. Some of those shows were very good, and some of the participants were quite interesting. When it becomes an alternative to getting a real job and a real life, though, things get ugly. I’m sick of hearing wannabe professional wrestler “The Miz” roar, or seeing how bitchy Coral can be. You know the show is sad when even Puck won’t appear on it. Please move on with your lives, aging MTV kids, and leave the entertainment to the professionals.

9. Fear Factor Couples
Relationships are hard. Relationships stressed by jumping from helicopters or bobbing for chicken feet while buried in live rats are soon to be history. If you really love your partner, I can’t imagine placing them in such a disgusting and doomed situation. Watching a husband cursing his wife for letting go of a rope while being dragged behind a vehicle through the desert is enough to make me very embarrassed for them, and glad that I’m single.

8. Temptation Island
The couple self-abuse continues with this show. I love you. You love me. Let’s go to a tropical resort and cheat on each other while being videotaped. Why? For a free vacation, of course.

7. Meet My Folks
This show extends the embarrassment to the whole family, and again, for a free vacation (to Hawaii). Parents allow themselves to look like fools. Their child looks like a slut (whether male or female). The three potential suitors expose all their past failures. Are people really that hard up for a free trip? Evidently.

6. Average Joe
Less than average looking men expect a better than average looking woman to overlook their looks and see the real man inside, while seeing nothing but how good she looks. If there is nothing wrong with looking “average”, why is everyone fighting over one attractive person? It’s a shallow group made even more shallow when “the hunks” show up. We are all attracted to beauty in some form, so accept it and don’t make ugly appear noble simply for being ugly.

5. Joe Millionaire
Does she love his model looks or big bank account? Is she so shallow that she would dump a guy who turns out to be poor or because he lied to her about everything for weeks? Why are men such dogs? Why are women such ho’s? Why do people find this crap entertaining?

4. Who Wants to Marry My Dad?
Great idea. Let’s choose our next mother by giving dad away as a game show prize. Let’s make the whole family look like idiots on national TV. Let’s not and say we did, okay?

3. The Bachelor
More of the “women are ho’s and men are dogs” brand of television programming. Take a handsome rich guy who could easily get most any woman that he wanted, then set him up in a mansion with a harem of beautiful young women who will do anything to stay for another episode. That’s a sure way to build a long lasting, committed and loving relationship. Never before has a rose been worth so little.

2. The Littlest Groom
I admit that I haven’t actually seen this show, as it hasn’t aired yet. I have only seen the ads and read about it. So here’s the idea. Take The Bachelor, and use little people. Then, like Average Joe, throw everyone a curve by bringing in average size beauties to compete against the little women. Showing different body types on TV can be a positive thing. Using those differences for shock value is nothing short of a freak show. Obviously, the series will be on the Fox network.

1. Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire
This show was so disturbing to audiences (which were huge), that a scheduled encore presentation had to be cancelled after numerous protests. You would have thought it was a gay union, instead of straight people who were damaging the institution of marriage. The multimillionaire turned out to be not so rich, and the blushing bride turned out to be a lying whore. Fox, which broadcast the show and then promised to never show anything so degrading again, just turned out more crap for the viewing masses.

I think the next group I’ll list are the worst “let some questionable experts completely make you or your home over in a very short period of time and on a limited budget” shows. Stay tuned.

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About wKen

  • Eric Olsen

    wKen, man are you preaching to my choir! Great job – the exploitation involved in these is reprehensible and viewers are complicit in making that exploitation viable. I am also sickened by the unreality of the purported “reality” shows.

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    Color me braindead on this one but I actually like My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancee, and that didn’t even make the cut here.

    The first season of The Osbournes was good, but it has sucked since. Joe Millionaire was probably the best of the lot but the follow-up to that with the Euro-Trash was lame. Temptation Island was ok. Anna Nicole kept about 5 minutes of my attention and the rest of the list I didn’t bother TiVOing.

    You missed out on the show with the dudes with masks that Monica Lewinsky hosted, that one was pretty, er, interesting.

    Fox has outdone themselves on some of these series and the sheer amazement of it is how anybody would sign up to do a show with them knowing they were going to be totally scammed. It shows how low some shallow people will go for the possibility of making a few bones, I guess.

    They should do a follow-up on some of these shows to see how they spent their money. I’d wager that in 99.9% of the cases the money is gone within a year and the couples are separated.

  • http://search4friction.com wKen

    Remind me, TDavid, is braindead red or blue (and why is everybody copying my online identity with the initial in front of the first name)?

    I liked the first season of the Osbournes too. That’s why it’s being pimped in the Amazon links. I also thought the Big Fat Fiance was funny.

    My list is the most “degrading” shows, though. Sometimes degrading TV is very entertaining. I’m just not so sure that’s a good thing.

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    Copying you? How long have you had this naming convention online? I’ve used this name since 1995, though not officially in business on the web until 1999 :) If you go back further than that, then yup, I copied you.

    ;)

  • Eric Olsen

    “oEric” – doesn’t have the same ring.

  • http://search4friction.com wKen

    1989, but not just on the web. The lowercase w is short for my last name (williams), and is silent.

    Everybody wants to be me, so I’m used to it. If Michael Jackson isn’t angry with Justin Timberlake, then why should I complain. No harm. No foul. ;)

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    I’ve gone by aJoe for a while, but the a is invisible and the J takes on the Spanish pronunciation.

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    Well, actually the uppercase “T” Is not for my last name, it is for my first, so sorry, I guess you’ll have to keep looking for a more suitable clone.

    I googled your name and find 17,600 results. Google me and find over 29,000. Keep at, grasshopper.

    ;)

  • http://search4friction.com wKen

    That makes me more rare, right?

    Eric, Dawn never says “oh Eric”?

    Joe, you crack me up.

  • http://www.whitehouse.org Doc

    I nominate the entire Fox New Channel for most degrading 24 hr reality TV.