Reality shows are our most popular guilty pleasure.
Since 1983's An American Family Revisited, which later inspired MTV's Real World, viewers have been enamored with watching others live their lives or some variation of their lives. Just last TV season, The Bachelor, The Voice, and Survivor ranked in the Top 20 of the most-watched shows.
But while reality TV is often criticized for dumbing down content, there’s a lot to be gained from watching the ongoing tales of other people’s lives.
Whether it’s watching a classic rags-to-riches story, being inspired by incredible weight loss journeys, following someone chasing after their dreams, getting a radical makeover, or just living their-day-to-day drama-filled life, these shows allow viewers to escape into someone else’s shoes, even if it’s just for a brief time. While some shows can be positive influences, we admit that isn’t always the case. But even controversial moments like when Snooki got punched when she confronted a man who stole the Jersey Shore group’s drinks, or when New York spit on Pumkin on Flavor of Love, gave us invaluable lessons on what not to do in high-pressure moments.
In the alternate world of reality shows, housewives don’t have to be wives, the biggest loser is actually the winner, and an average-looking guy can have groups of gorgeous women fighting over him. And now, with social media, fans have more access than ever to reality stars’ lives. Whether it’s fake or real, it’s damn good TV. Here are the best reality TV shows of all time.