Since the most recent episode is the Somethings revisiting EverRealm, I was thinking about some of the other reality shows (some gameshow types, some not) that I’ve enjoyed. When the big trend on television followed the Survivor trend of ‘put people in places and just record them’ – there was a lot out there, and because of that, some just didn’t make the cut longer than a season or two… others though, went on forever.
With an honorable mention to The Quest for being the inspiration for this, here are some of the reality shows I found myself glued to.
– The Real World – The grand-daddy of them all, MTV changed the game when they took a handful of twenty-somethings and threw them together in a loft in New York and told them to live with their differences. I know I’m not alone when I say that the Real World exposed me to people, cultures, sexualities, and types of people that I had never met before. As time went on, the show seemed to lose itself to a more party-oriented ‘who will hook-up’ type show, but the first half-dozen seasons or so is some of the most beautifully not-crafted television I have ever seen.
– The Joe Schmo Show – This one is almost a gimme, and was one of the big reasons we were so excited to interview Ralph Garman a few years back. The twist on the reality gimmick, one (or two) players, the rest are scripted actors. Can they run an on-the-fly narrative around these people while the craziness keeps amping up? Season One was one of the most must-see pieces of television around my house and over the years it may be one of the only DVD Boxsets I’ve cracked open to revisit.
– Whodunnit – This one is the silliest on the list, but I would most certainly watch another season if it existed. Framed as a Clue-esque murder mystery, each week another competitor was “murdered” off the show, and added to the narrative. At its best, it was a puzzle to unravel with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, it wasn’t a great show by any stretch, but the premise was so out there, I was hooked to see how it finally ended.
– Scream Queens – Obviously, as a lover of horror movies, I’d love to see more reality shows that focused on doing creepy things. Sadly, it’s hard to make reality as scary as movies. Giggling twenty-somethings walking with GoPros strapped to their heads just isn’t scary… but Scream Queens was as close as its come. Part acting, part horror – it was a season long screentest to try and find a new Final Girl for an upcoming horror movie. It was a great premise, if only it dipped even deeper into its scary roots.
– Solitary – If there is one show on this list you probably aren’t aware of.. it’s this one, and it is such a shame. Framed around a Portal-like narrative where a computer has people in test pods and is running experiments on them, Solitary was an adventure in ‘being alone’. Whether the competitors had to build giant contraptions in their test chambers, or try and sleep with blaring lights and sound as punishment, their computer overlord, Val made this three season Fox show a brilliant experiment in minimalism.