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Lowest-rated reality TV shows of all time

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    Lowest-rated reality TV shows of all time

    Reality television, launched in its current form by MTV’s “The Real World,” is one of the most incoherent but simultaneously illuminating creations of the last quarter century. What began as a window into Generation X soon has since become an at-times frightening template for the next generation as they enter young adulthood.

    We are a country that films everything, shares our private spaces, and constantly broadcasts our beliefs in one of many public Confessionals. This former glimpse into the lives of “real” people has turned into a bizarre distortion of the world— offering altered views of what business, relationships, and competition really are.

    With hundreds of shows now vying for viewers, Stacker analyzed IMDb data to compile a list of the lowest-rated reality TV series since the genre’s inception, focusing on shows with over 1,000 IMDb votes. 

    The shows range from the fairly harmless to the downright morally disastrous— along with a few that are so bad they just might be good.

  • s_bukley // Shutterstock
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    #100. Storage Wars

    Year: 2010 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.4

    After a period of time in California, unpaid storage lockers can be sold at auctions where potential buyers are given five minutes to look over the contents from a distance before committing to a bid. This show captures the bizarrely-competitive process while introducing a quirky cast of buyer—ranging from “The Mogul” to “The Vegas Ladies”— all intent on buying the best junk.

  • The White House
    3/ The White House

    #99. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

    Year: 2003 - 2012

    IMDb rating: 6.4

    A spin-off of “Extreme Makeover,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is a slightly less dark take on the same concept. While the original gifted new clothes, hair and makeup, and sometimes surgery to unkempt individuals, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” focuses on facelifts for homes in need of major renovation for deserving families. The show’s uplifting tone is tear-inducing to say the least.

  • PDTillman // Wikicommons
    4/ PDTillman // Wikicommons

    #98. Ice Road Truckers

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.4

    Piggybacking on the success of Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” History Channel’s “Ice Road Truckers” follows another cadre of gruff, cold-weather roughnecks. If the title wasn’t clear enough, the show follows truckers who drive dangerous seasonal routes over temporarily frozen lakes. The world’s fascinating and unreachable nature makes the show a compelling watch.

  • Discovery
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    #97. Alaskan Bush People

    Year: 2014 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.4

    “Alaskan Bush People” follows a naturalist family of nine living in the wilderness. This show, which premiered on Discovery Channel in 2014, asks the question: “What if those eccentric fellas from ‘Duck Dynasty’ lived in the boonies of Alaska instead?” It turns out, lots of controversy and far fewer invitations to the Republican National Convention.

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    6/ Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images

    #96. King of the Nerds

    Year: 2013 - 2016

    IMDb rating: 6.4

    Hosted by Lewis (Robert Carradine) and Booger (Curtis Armstrong) from the 1984 film “Revenge of the Nerds,” “King of the Nerds” placed a collection of geeks and whiz kids in a house together to compete in trivia and other contests. The show followed an elimination format with the winner ultimate receiving a $100,000 grand prize.

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    #95. Duck Dynasty

    Year: 2012 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.3

    This A&E show chronicles the life of a heavily bearded family of duck-hunting entrepreneurs in West Monroe, Louisiana. The Robertson family's conservatism and faith is a focal point of the show, although patriarch Phil has been embroiled in controversy over the past few years due to a series of aggressively anti-gay remarks. Son Willie Robertson, was invited to speak at the 2016 Republican National Convention in support of Donald Trump for president.

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    #94. Ridiculousness

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.3

    Hosted by skateboarder and serial reality show star Rob Dyrdek, “Ridiculousness” is MTV’s version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Updated for the YouTube age, the show is a collection of people failing on film, interspersed with commentary from Dyrdek and a group of panelists.

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    #93. Swamp People

    Year: 2010 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.3

    A theme emerges with “Swamp People,” another outgrowth of “Deadliest Catch,” but this time the audience follows alligator hunters in Louisiana. This History Channel show follows the rapid, competitive hunting season—only 30 days for gators—and gives a bit of background on the men of this strange world.

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    10/ Lwp Kommunikacio // Flickr

    #92. Hoarders

    Year: 2009 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.3

    “Hoarders” is an A&E show that features intensive interventions for people suffering from a hoarding disorder. The show features extreme cases of hoarding, and the reveal of the home is especially shocking. Everyone knows that one person who never throws things out, but the people on “Hoarders” are next level.

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    11/ Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    #91. The Two Coreys

    Year: 2007 - 2008

    IMDb rating: 6.3

    After starring together in the 1987 film “The Lost Boys,” teen idols Corey Feldman and Corey Haim started being dubbed the ‘Two Coreys.’ Twenty years later, A&E made a reality show following the two men—the series began with a down-on-his-luck Haim moving in with Feldman and his wife. The show was canceled, reportedly because Feldman wouldn’t work with Haim if he kept doing drugs. Tragically, Haim passed in 2010 of pneumonia at age 38.

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    #90. Food Network Star

    Year: 2005 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.3

    “Food Network Star” sets out to discover what makes a food television star, with each season focusing on a group of contestants competing to prove their culinary skill, personality, and bankability to a series of judges like Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. 

     

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    #89. America's Funniest Home Videos

    Year: 1989 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.2

    The ABC network’s staple, most memorably hosted by Bob Saget, is a clip show of embarrassing videos that are submitted by viewers and set to soundtracks or Saget’s sarcastic lines. At the end, the viewer with the funniest home video wins a cash prize. The show was an early example of the user-uploaded videos on YouTube and has demonstrated impressive longevity across a run of nearly 30 seasons.

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    14/ Staff Sgt. Kim Snow // Wikicommons

    #88. American Chopper: The Series

    Year: 2003 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.2

    “American Chopper” follows a father and son, Paul Teutul Sr. and Jr., who both custom manufacture chopper motorcycles at their shop in Montgomery, New York. The thrust of the show’s action comes from the two men’s verbal arguments and contrasting taste in choppers—Paul Sr. fired his son in 2008, which led to a spin-off series, “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior.”

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    #87. Whale Wars

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.2

    This Discovery Channel reality series follows the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s heroic, and sometimes dangerous campaign to stop whalers near Antarctica. The show works because the organization’s founder Paul Watson is a magnetic character, and the team uses pirate tactics while attempting to board the illegal whaling ships.

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    16/ U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal/Released

    #86. Last Comic Standing

    Year: 2003 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.2

    Soon after the success of Fox’s “American Idol,” NBC launched “Last Comic Standing,” a show with a similar concept. Throughout the weeks, contestants are whittled down by live studio audience votes until, as the name promises, one last comic remains. A fair amount of the comedians that performed have gone on to have successful careers, including Amy Schumer, Doug Benson, and Iliza Shlesinger, who won in the sixth season. 

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    #85. Flip or Flop

    Year: 2013 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.2

    In “Flip or Flop,” husband and wife real estate duo Tarek and Christina El Moussa buy a dilapidated or foreclosed home, renovate it, and then resell it for a profit. The show, same as most real-estate reality series, is a mix of the hypnotic element of viewing beautiful properties and the excitement of the interpersonal relationships of the stars.

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    #84. Criss Angel Mindfreak

    Year: 2005 - 2010

    IMDb rating: 6.1

    Criss Angel first appeared on TV in 1994 on ABC’s “Secrets.” A&E’s show follows magician Criss Angel as he performs street magic and illusion-based public stunts. In late-October 2018, Angel is wrapping up his Vegas show, “Mindfreak Live,” after more than 4,000 shows.

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    #83. Sons of Guns

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.1

    “Sons of Guns” focused on a Louisiana custom gun shop and each episode, the team modified an exotic gun in a novel way. The show was canceled in 2014 after the star, Will Hayden, was found guilty on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of forcible rape after being accused of raping a child. Last year, he was sentenced to two life sentences, plus 40 years.

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    #82. Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.1

    In this show, Dr. Drew Pinsky, one half of the legendary radio show “Loveline,” treats celebrities struggling with addiction at Pasadena Recovery Center. As one may expect, the show dealt with constant backlash—it seems evident that being on television might be counterproductive to kicking an addiction.

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    21/ AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

    #81. Beauty and the Geek

    Year: 2005 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.1

    This show, which aired on The CW, pairs beautiful women and nerdy men into unlikely couples, and makes them live and compete together. Competitions vary from being social-centric to academically based. The show is a bit retrograde and offensive—advertised as ‘the ultimate social experiment.’ One of the producers of “Beauty and the Geek” is Ashton Kutcher, which brings us to the show next on the countdown.

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    #80. Punk'd

    Year: 2003 - 2015

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    The iconic MTV show sent Ashton Kutcher into the field to prank celebrities in a “Candid Camera” fashion. At the end of the show, Kutcher would reveal to the celebrities that they had been pranked. The show was presented as a way to bring big-headed celebrities back down to earth.

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    #79. Judge Judy

    Year: 1996 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    Soon after America fell in love with court drama, a retired family court judge with a big personality began arbitrating small-time claims on daytime television. Since then, Judge Judy has continued to rule with an iron fist, acerbic wit and an iconic New York accent. Fun fact: Judge Judy’s contract paid her $47 million per year as of 2013.

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    #78. Auction Hunters

    Year: 2010 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    Soon after America fell in love with court drama, a retired family court judge with a big personality began arbitrating small-time claims on daytime television. Since then, Judge Judy has continued to rule with an iron fist, acerbic wit and an iconic New York accent. Fun fact: Judge Judy’s contract paid her $47 million per year as of 2013.

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    #77. Bam's Unholy Union

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    “Bam’s Unholy Union” was a one-season show that followed professional skateboarder, CKY band member, and “Jackass’” own Bam Margera as he prepared to marry his fiancée Missy Rothstein. The show has the same punkish feel of any other Margera project, but it is mostly about planning a wedding—a wedding where Iggy Pop plays, but a wedding nonetheless.

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    #76. Undercover Boss

    Year: 2010 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.9

    In case the world needed more reasons not to trust upper-management, each episode of “Undercover Boss” features a higher-up posing as an entry-level worker to experience how the other side lives and works. Each episode ends with the boss learning tough-earned lessons about how they could treat workers better.

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    #75. Gene Simmons: Family Jewels

    Year: 2006 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.9

    Much of television is derivative, but the derivation feels especially obvious in the reality genre. “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels” is a slightly tawdrier version of “The Osbournes.” The magic of  “The Osbournes’” first season was that Ozzy and his family seemed real. As you can imagine from a man who wore face paint throughout his career, “Family Jewels” does not feel like an unvarnished look at the life in the Simmons home.

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    #74. Moonshiners

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.9

    This Discovery Channel series follows the lives of people still making illegal moonshine in the Appalachian Mountains. Because the show contains illegal activity, law enforcement has made a point to contend that the action in the show is dramatized. The producers continue to claim that all of it is real.

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    #73. Teens React

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.9

    “Teens React” is a YouTube series—part of the series that has different-aged people react to pieces of pop culture. In this version, people older than 12 and younger than 20 react to topics including movies, viral videos, and presidential debates. “Teens React to Game of Thrones” has 4.4 million views.

     

     

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    #72. Pimp My Ride

    Year: 2004 - 2007

    IMDb rating: 5.8

    "Pimp My Ride" elaborately renovated cars that didn't look as though they could pass an emissions test. Lead by rapper Xzibit, the customizations installed weren't what you'd expect to be offered at the dealership, and ranged from wildly impractical to outright dysfunctional. Oh, you like fish—how would you like to drive a car with five exotic fish tanks shaped like a branzino?

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    #71. American Gladiators

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.8

    The original “American Gladiators” that ran from 1989 to 1996 was bad, but also incredible—with plenty of Spandex and bad haircuts. The reboot, hosted by Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali was considered redundant. Earnest ‘80s and ‘90s culture is intriguing—adding any contrivance to a show already overrun with well-oiled artifice becomes hard to watch.

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    #70. America's Got Talent

    Year: 2006 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.7

    Another competition show from the mind of “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, “America’s Got Talent” is a talent show in the same format. The show winnows the giant pool of contestants down to a small cadre by the time the live shows start. By the finale, the judges and fan voters must decide whose odd talent deserves the grand prize. This is the only show where a martial artist and a dog trainer have both won $1 million.

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    #69. Queer Eye

    Year: 2003 - 2007

    IMDb rating: 5.7

    Built on the stereotype that gay men are great at fashion and interior design, “Queer Eye” sent the Fab Five—Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez—to give a badly dressed straight man a makeover. The Bravo show was a surprise hit and was clearly missed after it went off the air because Netflix ordered a new season of the series that just premiered this month.   

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    #68. America's Next Top Model

    Year: 2001–2006 and 2011–present

    https://www.nbc.com/fear-factor?nbc=1

    IMDb rating: 5.6

    In this serialized competition show, aspiring models move into a house and compete in a series of weekly events to find out who is cut out for the world of super modeling. The key to the show, which has just begun its 24th season, is host and judge Tyra Banks. Already one of the top-earning models by the early 2000s, the show took her and her use of the word ‘fierce’ to a whole nother level of fame.

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    #67. Fear Factor

    Year: 2001 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.6

    After the mega-success of CBS’s “Survivor,” which forced regular people to go through extreme conditions for the chance to win $1 million, NBC launched “Fear Factor,” which made regular people eat inedible food and complete scary stunts for money. While “Survivor” was an intricate enough game to create a whole world of social strategy, “Fear Factor” was more about host Joe Rogan encouraging people to eat worms. In 2011, the network brought the show back after being off the air for several years.

     

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    #66. The Girls Next Door

    Year: 2005 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.6

    This E! reality series took viewers inside the strange world of the Playboy Mansion and Hugh Hefner’s personal life. The first five seasons were interesting in a voyeuristic sense, and Hefner’s girlfriends Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson were charming enough to carry the show. When Hefner dumped them all for two 19-year-old twins before the sixth season, it got too dark to keep watching.

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    #65. LA Ink

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.6

    This TLC reality show is a spin-off of a similarly lackluster tattoo shop reality series, “Miami Ink.” “LA Ink” follows Kat Von D—who left the Miami tattoo studio because of a dispute with her co-stars—out to Los Angeles, where she opens a shop of her own. As you’d expect, Von D continually clashes and fires coworkers throughout the seasons.

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    #64. The Biggest Loser

    Year: 2004 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.5

    NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” is a competition show where contestants work with intense personal trainers to lose shocking amounts of weight each week. Because this is a network reality show rather than a cable show, episodes feature heartbreaking backstories and end with the dramatic weight loss that hopefully contributes to contestants being happier and healthier in their lives.

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    39/ Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

    #63. The Osbournes

    Year: 2002 - 2005

    IMDb rating: 5.5

    Right as Pat Boone’s crooning cover of “Crazy Train” came on at the beginning of this MTV reality show, it was clear that “The Osbournes” was going to be a special television program. “The Osbournes” followed the wild domestic life of Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne. The rest of the Osbourne family is incredibly entertaining—his wife Sharon, and his two punk kids, Jack and Kelly. The family’s other daughter, Aimee, declined to be a part of the show. The Osbournes were a bit like a strung-out, technicolored, cuddly version of the Sopranos.

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    #62. Ax Men

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.5

    Another entry in the genre of unique jobs reality TV, “Ax Men” follows logging crews in America’s northwest and southeast forests. As is always the case, the show focuses on the rugged men who do the work, and the dangers they face. In 2016, Gabe Rygaard, who frequently appeared on the series, was killed in a car accident.

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    #61. Big Brother

    Year: 2000 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.4

    Based on a Dutch series, “Big Brother” puts 10 people in a house rigged with cameras everywhere, and forces them to interact with only their housemates. Throughout the season, the housemates compete and vote on who to evict until the eventual winner emerges. The key to the game is to not go insane—it’s similar to “Survivor,” but instead of an island, contestants are stranded on a soundstage.

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    #60. Paranormal State

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.3

    The producers behind “Paranormal State” deserve a pat on the back; they managed to find a truly out-there college club—Penn State’s Paranormal Research Society—and turn it into a TV show. The A&E series follows the group of amateur ghost hunters as they search for paranormal activity at haunted locations. That these reality ghost shows keep popping up is the only truly terrifying part of this clunker of a series.

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    #59. The Apprentice

    Year: 2004 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.2

    This infamous show requires contestants to compete for a job as the host’s apprentice. After declaring his intention to run for President, Donald Trump—who was the host for 14 seasons—stepped down. Last year, Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped into his place.

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    #58. The X Factor

    Year: 2011 - 2013

    IMDb rating: 5.2

    Another Simon Cowell creation, “The X Factor” may be seen as Fox’s attempt to double down on “American Idol.” The show, which also had singers competing for a record deal by gaining votes from judges and viewers, was so close to “American Idol” that creator Simon Fuller sued Cowell. The show ran through a fair amount of judges, including Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid, and Britney Spears.

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    #57. Dog the Bounty Hunter

    Year: 2003 - 2012

    IMDb rating: 5.2

    Another Simon Cowell creation, “The X Factor” may be seen as Fox’s attempt to double down on “American Idol.” The show, which also had singers competing for a record deal by gaining votes from judges and viewers, was so close to “American Idol” that creator Simon Fuller sued Cowell. The show ran through a fair amount of judges, including Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid, and Britney Spears.

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    #56. Supernanny

    Year: 2005 - 2012

    IMDb rating: 5.2

    Originally a British series, “Supernanny” is a reality show where nanny Jo Frost arrives at the homes of parents with difficult kids, and completely transforms the children. Frost is a wonderfully stern Brit with a heart of gold—she’s basically “The Dog Whisperer” for children.

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    #55. Say Yes to the Dress

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.2

    Some say it was President Eisenhower who first warned us about the wedding industrial complex. Unfortunately, we didn’t heed the words Ike possibly said, and now every part of weddings have been turned into a once-in-a-lifetime moment with a bill to match. “Say Yes to the Dress” lets audiences watch a bride pick her dream dress for her big day—we see what she thinks would work, how wrong she usually is, and how hard it is to convince Grandma to let her show a little skin.

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    #54. The Moment of Truth

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.2

    “The Moment of Truth” is a game show that ran for one season on Fox. Each contestant takes a polygraph test, and then must tell the truth—based on the results of the polygraph—in front of a studio audience. Obviously, as the value of questions rises, the answers are more personal. 

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    #53. The City

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.2

    This show is a spin-off of MTV’s “The Hills,” which was a spin-off of “Laguna Beach,” which was brought to air because of the success of “The O.C.” “The City” follows Whitney Port, who heads to New York to work for a famous designer. “The Hills” lucked into many great characters, and two of the greatest villains in reality show history, but “The City” never hit the same kinetic magnificence.

  • Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock
    50/ Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

    #52. Vanderpump Rules

    Year: 2013 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.1

    The Bravo series follows struggling actors and models who work at a West-Hollywood restaurant owned by Lisa Vanderpump from “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” One of the keys to reality television is the right blend of insane protagonists and believability—but the actors’ acting falls short on “Vanderpump Rules.”

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    #51. Storage Wars: Texas

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.1

    A spin-off of “Storage Wars,” “Storage Wars: Texas” follows a group of people bidding on storage lockers that are past due for rent, only this time in Texas!

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    #50. Real World

    Year: 1992 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    The drama of seven strangers living together captivated audiences. It was inspired by a 12-hour 1973 PBS documentary show called “An American Family,” which filmed seven months of the Loud family’s daily lives in Santa Barbara, California. Without the “Real World,” the entire genre would never have taken off; this blossoming led to the rise of competition reality.

  • Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock
    53/ Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

    #49. Deal or No Deal

    Year: 2005 - 2009

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    Based on a Dutch game show, “Deal or No Deal” puts a contestant in front of a collection of suitcases with dollar amounts inside. As the possible prize amounts are eliminated, an unseen banker calls host Howie Mandel, offering a settlement that the contestant must take or leave. The drama comes when the suitcase with $1 million is still on the board and the contestant must choose between taking or leaving huge amounts of cash.

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    54/ Debby Wong // Shutterstock

    #48. Rock of Love with Bret Michaels

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    VH1’s “Rock of Love” is proof that romance ain’t dead, baby! The show brought 25 women together to compete for the chance to date Poison frontman and everyday bandana-wearer Bret Michaels. Shockingly, the resulting relationship did not last—but that did allow for two more seasons.

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    55/ s_bukley // Shutterstock

    #47. Hogan Knows Best

    Year: 2005 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    VH1’s “Hogan Knows Best” follows the domestic life of pro-wrestler and actor Hulk Hogan and his family. A lot of the show’s action centered around Hogan’s daughter Brooke and her burgeoning singing career. The result was a spin-off called “Brooke Knows Best.”

  • Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock
    56/ Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

    #46. Chrisley Knows Best

    Year: 2014 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    Another family reality show, “Chrisley Knows Best,” follows the Georgia-based Chrisley family. Multimillionaire Todd Chrisley is a real estate mogul with five kids and many eccentricities. The wife and mother, Julie, plays a rock-solid role in the family and has spoken out about her battle against breast cancer.

  • VH1
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    #45. Mob Wives

    Year: 2011 - 2016

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    VH1 launched “Mob Wives” as a show that followed four women whose husbands had been arrested and incarcerated for mob-related crimes. As the show went on, a few more mob wives were added to the cast—this show is a creative, if a bit dark, take on “The Real Housewives” extended universe.

  • MTV
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    #44. Cribs

    Year: 2000 - present

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    MTV’s “Cribs” takes the audience inside and outside the extravagant mansions of celebrities on fun, personality-driven tours. The show coined the catchphrase, “This is where the magic happens,” which the celebrities habitually say before opening the doors to their bedrooms. The most-watched episode is the hour-long Mariah Carey special.

  • Kathy // Wikicommons
    59/ Kathy // Wikicommons

    #43. Jon & Kate Plus 8

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.9

    TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus 8” was a family reality show about a hectic, but energetic family. Jon and Kate Gosselin had twins and then got pregnant again—this time they had sextuplets. This show was highly rated and the series was changed to “Kate Plus 8” once the couple split up.

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    #42. Dancing with the Stars

    Year: 2005 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.8

    ABC’s mega-hit “Dancing with the Stars” is an odd, but simple premise: take a collection of famous people, have them dance with professional dance partners, and then let America vote on who goes home. The most interesting part of “Dancing with the Stars” is how it has become a career rehabilitation program for those who have damaged their names—TV chef Paula Deen, Majority Leader Tom Delay, and Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, to name a few. 

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    #41. Hardcore Pawn

    Year: 2009 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.8

    This truTV series follows the Gold family-owned pawn shop, American Jewelry and Loan, in Detroit. The show highlights a fascinating sibling rivalry between Les Gold’s two kids, Seth and Ashley, providing much of the action. The first episode was the network’s most-watched series premiere ever.

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    #40. Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County

    Year: 2004 - 2006

    IMDb rating: 4.8

    In response to the gigantically successful show, “The O.C.,” MTV launched “Laguna Beach” as the real-life version of Orange County teenagers. By following the rich, popular kids at Laguna Beach High School, the show gives a window into the over-the-top, incredibly dramatic way the cast lives. Employing a narrator, senior Lauren Conrad, and what felt like a fair amount of scripted action, the show lived in the middle-ground between soap opera and reality show.

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    #39. Bad Girls Club

    Year: 2006 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.8

    Created by Bunim-Murray Productions, the team behind “The Real World,” “Bad Girls Club” puts seven women in a house together. Because each cast member is chosen specifically for their ability to be a tough and charismatic woman, the verbal and physical sparring become much realer than on Bunim-Murray’s most famous franchise. During their three months in the mansion, the women fight almost constantly.

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    #38. I Love New York

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.8

    To truly understand “I Love New York, we must go back a few decades. In 1986, Rick Rubin tried to sign Chuck D to Def Jam Records, who insisted that Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav be signed as well. By the late ‘80s, Public Enemy’s revolutionary rap was topping the charts, and Flavor Flav’s large clock necklaces were becoming legendary. A couple of decades later, VH1 created “Flavor of Love,” a dating show that poked fun at Flav the way “Rock of Love” lovingly mocked Bret Michaels. The standout contestant was Tiffany “New York” Pollard. Twenty-one years after Rubin signed Flav, Pollard received her own deal—this time to star on a reality program where men compete for her heart.

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    #37. Lizard Lick Towing

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.7

    Set in North Carolina’s unincorporated community of Lizard Lick, “Lizard Lick Towing” follows a gruff team of towers as they repossess people’s property. Ironically enough, this truTV reality show is notorious for staging the altercations between the Lizard Lick Towing team and people getting their vehicles repossessed.

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    #36. The Millionaire Matchmaker

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.7

    In each episode of “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” the audience sees millionaires receive tips before dates with attractive potential mates. The premise—that even millionaires need help finding love—feels like it was dreamed up by a producer. But the show follows Patti Stanger, who actually runs a Beverly Hills service called Millionaire’s Club that does just that.

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    #35. Cheaters

    Year: 2000 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.7

    “Cheaters” doesn’t waste time with any of the varnish of newer reality series—it feels more like “Cops” for infidelity. The show employs a team of private investigators with hidden cameras to catch the suspected cheating partner. Each investigation ends with a confrontation, with the wronged partner jumping out of nowhere to unleash at their cheating lover—it’s comparable to the most unhinged episode of “Candid Camera” imaginable.

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    #34. Dance Moms

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.6

    "Dance Moms” follows a highly competitive Pittsburgh-based, young girls’ dance troupe. The show’s action comes from the often irrational and overheated interactions between teacher Abby Lee Miller and the dancers’ mothers. At the end of each week, Miller gives tough critiques to each of the young dancers in her troupe.

     

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    #33. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

    Year: 2010 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.6

    “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is the sixth in Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” franchise. Just as in every other version, this iteration features a group of wealthy frenemies who love dramatic dinner parties and lavish trips that end in fights. The Beverly Hills cast centers around “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer’s wife, as well as his ex-wife, former child actress Kim Richards, and restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump.

     

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    #32. Flavor of Love

    Year: 2006 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.6

    After Public Enemy hype-man Flavor Flav’s memorable appearance on “The Surreal Life,” it was clear he was ready to bring his bizarre, excitable persona to a franchise of his own. “Flavor of Love” posits that “The Bachelor” would be more interesting if instead of watching a boring, cookie-cutter person find love, audiences watched women compete for the heart of Mr. ‘Yeah Boy!’ himself. 

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    #31. Storage Hunters

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.5

    This truTV series follows eccentric teams of bidders looking for treasures in repossessed lockers. The show works because of extensive editing—we see more great finds than you would in reality. It’s likely that the majority of these storage lockers are holding an old bike and a box of knick-knacks leftover from the previous owner’s last move.

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    #30. Teen Mom 2

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.4

    “Teen Mom 2” follows the lives of the mothers from the second season of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.” The entire machine of reality television runs on people who are intrigued by the chance at fame. In the case of “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant,” the participants’ particular vulnerability makes it challenging to watch at times.

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    #29. Sister Wives

    Year: 2010 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.3

    “Sister Wives” follows the polygamist life of Kody Brown, his four wives—Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn—and their 18 kids. The Browns are part of the Mormon fundamentalist sect Apostolic United Brethren. At the beginning of the show, an obstacle this family regularly dealt with was keeping their secret from the outside world.

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    #28. Wife Swap

    Year: 2004 - 2013

    IMDb rating: 4.3

    “Wife Swap” takes two couples from vastly different lives and swaps their spouses for two weeks. For the first week, the new wife must live by the original family rules, but in week two, she can start to run the house the way she does her own. There was always a conciliatory moment at the end when both families met and talked.

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    #27. American Idol

    Year: 2002 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.2

    At its peak in its fifth season, this singing competition show was receiving 30 million viewers per episode, which almost doubles the top-rated show of 2017. Because of its absolute ratings stranglehold, rival TV executives referred to it as the “Death Star.” Over the course of its run, it has launched the career of successful stars, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, and Adam Lambert.

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    #26. The Real Housewives of Atlanta

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.1

    The third installment in “The Real Housewives” franchise, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” follows the similar format of a wealthy group of female friends who travel, have lavish dinner parties, and fight.

     

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    #25. The Real Housewives of Orange County

    Year: 2006 - 2017

    IMDb rating: 4.0

    After the success of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” Bravo jumped into the sexy housewife space with this reality show. “The Real Housewives of Orange County” rotated leading ladies in and out during its more than 10-year run, but only Vicki Gunvalson, wife of Donn Gunvalson and co-founder of an insurance company, remained throughout the entire run of the show.

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    #24. The Real Housewives of New York City

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 4.0

    “The Real Housewives of New York City” was the follow-up to the original “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” Initially conceived as a show called “Manhattan Moms,” most of the cast of are not actually housewives. Original cast member Bethenny Frankel went on to launch Skinny Girl Vodka in 2011, which she later sold for an estimated $100 million.  

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    #23. The Real Housewives of New Jersey

    Year: 2009 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.9

    The fourth of “The Real Housewives” shows is set in New Jersey and follows another group of housewives. For this series, the wives are all related—either sisters or through marriage. Teresa Giudice, the only cast member to remain on the show for all eight seasons, spent 11 months in federal prison in 2015 for fraud. 

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    #22. The Simple Life

    Year: 2003 - 2007

    IMDb rating: 3.8

    Let us never forget—Paris Hilton was an important cultural figure in 2003. Weeks after her sex tape was leaked, “The Simple Life”—in which Hilton and Nicole Richie failed miserably and acted badly while attempting various blue collar jobs—premiered on Fox. At the time, Kim Kardashian was a little-known member of Hilton’s entourage—four years later, Kim’s own sex tape would leak soon before the premiere of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Hilton has had a less public 2010s, but continues to be a huge success in the fashion and fragrance industries. Ritchie now stars in the NBC sitcom “Great News.”  

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    #21. Kendra

    Year: 2009 - 2011

    IMDb rating: 3.6

    “Kendra” was a spin-off of the E! network’s show, “The Girls Next Door.” It followed the life of Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriend and Playboy playmate Kendra Wilkinson after she left the Playboy Mansion. During the run of the show, she and NFL wide receiver Hank Baskett got engaged, married, and had a child. The theme song is by artist Too $hort, who was Wilkinson’s mentor on “Celebrity Rap Superstar.”

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    #20. Jersey Shore

    Year: 2009 - 2012

    IMDb rating: 3.5

    Fans of the show take “Jersey Shore” for what it is: trashy and tumultuous with characters too delusional or unaware to care about cameras. The series follows Pauly D, The Situation, JWoww, Snooki, Sammi, Ronnie and Vinnie—self-proclaimed ‘guidos’ and ‘guidettes’—as they fist-bump, workout, drink, fight, and fall in and out of love.

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    #19. The Hills

    Year: 2006 - 2010

    IMDb rating: 3.5

    A spin-off to “Laguna Beach,” this MTV series followed Lauren Conrad as she started a career in fashion. The standout of “The Hills” was Conrad’s roommate Heidi Montag and her boyfriend Spencer Pratt—considered one of the great reality TV villains in history. Just as “Laguna Beach” and “The City,” the show felt a bit scripted, but was still entertaining to watch for fans.

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    #18. Teen Mom

    Year: 2009 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.5

    The original spin-off to “16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom,” which was redubbed “Teen Mom OG” in season five, follows the lives of the “16 and Pregnant” women after they gave birth. Almost anyone would want to be on TV as a teenager, but perhaps a camera crew at the house is not the best thing for mother or child. Farrah Abraham, one of the original moms, wrote a book that made it onto The New York Times’ best-seller list, has appeared in the reality TV show “Celebrity Big Brother,” and has acted in a handful of pornographic films.

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    #17. 17 Kids and Counting

    Year: 2008 - 2015

    IMDb rating: 3.4

    As we know, if someone has an outlandish number of kids, TLC wants to film them. “17 Kids and Counting” follows the Duggar family, devout baptists from Arkansas who do not believe in birth control. The family is a favorite of the alt-right political group—the mother recorded a transphobic robocall in favor of a transgender bathroom ban. The eldest son, Josh, is credibly alleged to have molested five young girls when he was a teenager, including four of his younger sisters. In its final season, the show was TLC’s highest-rated series before being cancelled following Josh’s molestation charges.

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    #16. A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.4

    Tequila rose to prominence by being a big deal on early social media site Myspace—she parlayed the social media fame into “A Shot at Love,” a bisexual dating show in which men and women competed for Tequila’s heart.

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    #15. Khloé & Lamar

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.4

    This “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” spin-off followed Khloé and Lamar Odom’s sometimes beautiful, but heartbreaking relationship. The show’s two seasons covered Odom’s trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks, and Khloé’s revelation that she might not be Robert Kardashian’s daughter. A few years after the show, the degree of Odom’s drug use came to light. For basketball and Kardashian fans, the story is a tragic one.

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    #14. Utopia

    Year: 2014

    IMDb rating: 3.4

    Fox paid an estimated $50 million to create this over-the-top reality series based on a Dutch show. The premise—15 men and women are placed in a remote setting for a year, surrounded by cameras 24/7, and allowed to create a society from scratch. Unfortunately, the show was a disaster and cancelled weeks into its planned year-long run.

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    #13. Kourtney & Kim Take Miami

    Year: 2009 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.3

    This “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” spin-off initially followed sisters Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian as they moved to Miami to open another location of their clothing boutique DASH. In Season 3, Kim Kardashian replaced Khloé, and the title of the show changed from “Kourtney & Khloé” to “Kourtney & Kim.” The true stars of this series were Kourtney’s then-husband Scott Disick and their baby Mason.

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    #12. Kourtney & Kim Take New York

    Year: 2011 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.3

    As you may have guessed, this “Keeping Up With The Kardashian” spin-off followed sisters Kourtney and Kim as they open another location of their clothing boutique DASH in New York City. During the two-season run, Kim married and divorced NBA player Kris Humphries.

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    #11. The Bachelorette

    Year: 2003 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.2

    With the exact same format as “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” places around 20 men in a house—and then on the road—as they compete for the chance to marry the bachelorette. The premise of one person dating so many people simultaneously before promptly choosing one to spend the rest of their life with is zany enough to create television magic. Interestingly, six of the 13 end couples from “The Bachelorette” are still together, but only one of the 21 marriages from “The Bachelor” is still kicking.

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    #10. Snooki & JWOWW

    Year: 2012 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.2

    This “Jersey Shore” spin-off follows Snooki and Jwoww as they live somewhat domestic lives in a converted firehouse in Jersey City. The first season documents Snooki’s pregnancy, which gave it quite a different tenor than the blackout shenanigans of the original series. Both of these women are truly notable television characters.

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    #9. Amish Mafia

    Year: 2012 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.2

    Set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, “Amish Mafia” follows Lebanon Levi and his three associates who claim to be a small Amish mob syndicate. If this premise seems too good to be true—”The Sopranos” in Amish country—it may be because it is. Throughout its run, the Discovery Channel series was called out for being more fiction than reality.

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    #8. The Bachelor

    Year: 2002 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.1

    While some prefer the most libidinous and debaucherous cable reality TV shows, “The Bachelor” is about as risque as network reality TV can get. Also, in the show’s 20th season, it was the only network TV show to grow its ratings in 2017. Hate all you want: “The Bachelor” might be television’s last great hope.

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    #7. 16 and Pregnant

    Year: 2009 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.1

    Shot in an unvarnished documentary style, MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” follows pregnant teens, showing both the ups and downs of their lives. The show came soon after the hugely successful 2007 film “Juno,” which followed a 16-year-old who carries her pregnancy to term. Unlike “Teen Mom,” each episode of “16 and Pregnant” followed a different mother from the midpoint of her pregnancy until the time her child was a few months old.

     

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    #6. Operation Repo

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 3.1

    “Operation Repo” is another show that follows repo men, but this time the focus is on a team based in the San Fernando Valley. While most reality shows are believed to contain scripted elements, this series is especially egregious, particularly because it is shown on truTV. But despite the accusations of reenactments and actors, the show ran for 11 seasons.

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    #5. Keeping Up with the Kardashians

    Year: 2007 - present

    IMDb rating: 2.8

    There is a certain banality to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which follows the lives of the Kardashian family and those close to them. There’s something wonderful about watching beautiful people in glamorous homes deal with seemingly small issues in incredibly dramatic ways. During the run of the show, the family has risen to the top of American popular culture, and yet the show is not a ratings giant.

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    #4. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

    Year: 2012 - 2017

    IMDb rating: 2.6

    A spin-off of TLC’s “Toddlers and Tiaras,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” follows Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson and her mother around their small town of McIntyre, Georgia. Honey Boo Boo’s appearance on “Toddlers and Tiaras” made her a viral sensation—this show tried to turn that viral moment into a television series. It doesn’t ever reach the magic of the first time we saw Thompson being goofy on camera.

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    #3. Paris Hilton's My New BFF

    Year: 2008 - present

    IMDb rating: 2.1

    This MTV reality show pitted 16 women and two men against each other to compete for the right to be Paris Hilton’s new best friend forever. Brittany Flickinger won the show’s first season, but Hilton and her quickly had a falling out, which allowed for a second season. Hilton promised, as earnestly as she could, that the winner would be her BFF forever this time.

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    #2. My Super Sweet 16

    Year: 2005 - present

    IMDb rating: 1.9

    MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” is a relatively genius look at the over-the-top, extravagant birthday celebrations of truly spoiled 16-year-olds. Each episode follows a different teenager as they prepare for the lavish event—the teens almost always throw tantrums, fight with friends, and manage to not enjoy themselves at their incredible parties.

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    #1. Toddlers and Tiaras

    Year: 2009 - present

    IMDb rating: 1.8

    Reality television is inherently about voyeurism—it’s about peering into worlds you’d never experience—whether that means dangerous professions, extravagant lives, or strange characters hidden in rural America. “Toddlers and Tiaras” is an especially distasteful version of the latter example, lampooning pageant moms and young children. The show dresses toddler-aged pageant contestants provocatively, once even padding a child’s chest and featuring a toddler smoking fake cigarettes. There are a lot of questionable entries on this list, but it’s not surprising to see “Toddlers and Tiaras” land at No. 1.  

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