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Friday, July 26, 2013

The 10 Most Forgotten Reality Shows of All Time

Now, I know what you're thinking. Television in the year 2013 is a cesspool. All there is to watch is cheaply produced reality television programs cast with some of the most vapid, obnoxious, fame-hungry people on the entire planet.

And, many cases, you would be right.

From the granddaddy of reality television shows like “Survivor”, “Big Brother” and “The Bachelor” to newer offerings such as “The Winner”, “Whodunnit” and “The American Baking Competition”, reality television seems to be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Whether we want it or not.

But that's fine with me. I happen to be a fan of reality based television for several reasons. One, it happens to be a fun distraction by watching what other people's definition of what “reality” is. Two, it makes me feel a little bit more secure in my own life watching some of the train-wrecks that are cast in these types of shows. And thirdly, I have to admit that some of the reality shows that I watch, I actually want to be a contestant on!

I know for sure that I will never be the next American Idol (mainly because I am Canadian). But I bet I could kick butt on Big Brother. I don't think I could stomach being “The Bachelor”, but I wouldn't mind going all over the world in “The Amazing Race”. And, I know that I will never be considered “America's Next Top Model” (nor would I WANT to). But if they ever had a reality show where people competed to be the best writer, I think I could really give the other contestants a run for their money.

Now some of these shows are absolute trash, and I would never want to be seen watching them (“Jersey Shore”, for example), but there are others that I have watched since the very beginning.

And, some reality shows tend to last a lot longer than others due to the producers always trying new things to spice them up (though some changes don't sit well with viewers). It's why “Big Brother” is currently airing its fifteenth season, “Hell's Kitchen” just concluded their eleventh, “Survivor” is about to kick off their twenty-seventh year on the air, and “America's Next Top Model” is set to air season...

...ahem...cycle 20.

But what about those reality shows that only lasted a season or two? Do you remember those at all?

Well, that's what this entry is all about. Today we're going to be looking at the forgotten reality shows of the last two decades. In 1992, a television show called “The Real World” began airing on MTV, which featured a group of young Americans living together in a house. There were no cash prizes, no battles for control, and no fighting to survive on a deserted island. It was just about people struggling to fit into a world that they didn't necessarily always understand. For whatever reason, the show became one of MTV's highest rated programs, and I think the success of the show kicked off the reality television movement.

And, as I stated before, many shows have survived and thrived. And, then there's this collection of ten shows, which you will see below. Some of them were ones that I really liked and enjoyed, and hoped that they would bring them back on the air one day. Others were shows that I was surprised even lasted the entire season. And, in the case of one program, it was so terrible that they ended up cancelling the show after just two episodes!

So, let's get this look back on the most forgotten reality shows of all time.

July 24, 2001 – September 4, 2001

Twelve years ago, I was absolutely glued to my television set watching this reality series unfold on FOX. It was as if you were watching a miniseries where you were trying to figure out who a serial killer was...only it was a reality show.

I'll give FOX a lot of credit. They went all out for this television series, which was set in the fictional community of Sunrise, Maine (actually known as Eastport, Maine). Ten people arrived at the fishing town to solve the murder of an entire family – The Flints. But as the show progressed, more and more people were murdered, and the investigators were eliminated one by one by playing the “killer's game” by being killed off until only two remained.

(Just so you know, nobody actually ended up dying during the game. In fact, one of the investigators that was eliminated later became a contestant on “The Apprentice” four years later.)

It was a brilliant storyline, capped off by the fact that all the key suspects in the game were hired actors and actresses who stayed in character 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the mystery was over.

Unfortunately, the show only lasted one season. And, sadly, the winner of the game, firefighter Angel Juarbe, Jr. was killed on September 11, 2001 in an attempt to rescue people from the World Trade Center in New York. His death occurred just one week after the show's finale aired, making it even more of a tragedy.

September 21, 2005 – December 21, 2005

Okay, so most of you have likely heard of the Donald Trump version, which has aired both civilian and celebrity versions since 2004. Well, Martha Stewart decided to give the franchise a whirl by hosting her own version of the show, which saw sixteen people competing against each other in the chance to become Martha's next apprentice.

The show was exciting and new, as we saw such breathtaking tasks as writing a children's book, or designing a new flavour of salad dressing. And, when teams won, we got to see them enjoy such fancy and elaborate outings with Martha Stewart such as touring one of Martha's homes, or playing Scrabble with Martha.

Oh, who am I kidding? The show was a disaster from the very beginning! The only things that were redeeming about the show was that we had a character that we loved to hate on the show (Jim), and that it was the show that introduced us to Bethenny Frankel...which depending on who you talk to may or may not be a good thing.

February 25, 2000

I suppose that the best thing about this show was that it only lasted one episode. It was a two-hour television event (predating Survivor by three months) which saw fifty women competing against each other to marry a man who they did not know. And, the women didn't know who he was either. All they had to go on was a silhouette. By the end of the episode, registered nurse Darva Conger was selected to marry Rick Rockwell, got married on the show, and they lived happily ever after...

...for all of a few days.

With the “multi-millionaire” status of Rick Rockwell in question, we later learned that Rick Rockwell was actually Richard Balkey, a man whose net worth was only two million dollars, and who had a restraining order against him by a former girlfriend. And that was enough for Darva Conger to want a divorce. It was a disaster of a show from the beginning, and an even bigger PR disaster for the parties involved.

January 2005 – March 2005

Okay, so Wickedly Perfect was a show that was hosted by former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden, and it was kind of similar in format to Martha Stewart's Apprentice. Contestants competed against each other in a variety of creative tasks to become the next Martha Stewart, complete with prizes that would help them achieve that goal.

Well, the winner of that show was Kimberly Kennedy. But how many of you actually knew that? Since the show wrapped in 2005, I haven't seen her name appearing on magazines, or have seen her on television shows, or anything. It was a nice idea for a show, and should have been more well-received...but the snoozefest that ultimately was associated with this show was anything but...well...wickedly perfect.

April 2003 – May 2003

I am one who believes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am not one who would fall in love with someone based on how they look. For me, personality is everything. So, a show that has a woman who is looking for her one true love in a room where all the men's faces are covered should sound like a good idea in theory, right?

Problem #1 – The program was hosted by Monica Lewinsky.
Problem #2 – The men on the show had really ugly personalities.
Problem #3 – By the end of the show, we didn't care if the woman did find love.

Recipe for disaster...but not as bad as...

July 2003 – September 2003

Everyone knows of the impact that Simon Cowell has had in the music industry. He was the “Mean Judge” of American Idol for nearly ten years, and he currently is working as a judge on “Britain's Got Talent”.

Unfortunately, his efforts to create a dating show fell apart. The show was about a 25-year-old woman named Lisa, who was looking for love. She was also attached to a million dollar dowry, which proved to be problematic. Guys auditioned to get into Lisa's dowry...ah, erm...heart, and it became really clear who was there for love, and who was there for money. Luckily, Lisa had her two friends Kimberly and Laura there to weed out the good from the bad.

It's just too bad that Laura was an attack dog, who was incredibly snobbish and rude to all the men who were there. And, it's too bad that America had the control over who they wanted to see on the show (which explains why the worst guy of the bunch ended up in the final two). And, it's a shame that as the show progressed, we got to see that Lisa was just becoming frustrated by the whole experience, and showed off a bratty side that wasn't very becoming at all. It was a terrible idea for a show, and by the end, we just didn't care about Lisa OR her million dollar dowry.

September 19, 2007 – December 12, 2007

If you were into watching kids between the ages of eight and sixteen slaving away doing hard labour, getting into fights over brutal working and living conditions, and watching kids try to start up a society, then this is the show for you. Forty kids from all over the United States were brought into an abandoned town to learn all about civics and city planning while starting up their own town. Some children were awarded stars for their hard work and performances, which were worth lots of money for their college tuitions.

The show was associated with a lot of controversy, and many people felt that the show was exploiting children. But, I'll also be the first to admit that I watched the whole show, and I didn't find it as bad as I should have. The kids were working hard, but many of them treated the whole experience as a game, and had fun. You could definitely see that. And, if at the end of it all, I think that they had a life-changing experience that will change the way that they see the world. At least, one can hope.

And, here's a scary thing to consider. The oldest kids on this series would be in college now!

January 5, 2009 – July 19, 2010

The show only lasted two seasons, but I happened to like the premise a lot. The show was cast with the most beautiful looking people in the world (and they will tell you that themselves too), and they were brought to a nice mansion competing in photo shoots that would help the judges determine who would win a modeling contest.

There was just one catch. The contest measured their inner beauty.

Hidden cameras caught the contestants being put in various moral and ethical dilemmas, and the person who passed most of the tests would win the honour of being a true beauty. These tasks could include helping someone find a lost ring, treating people with respect on photo shoots, even something as ridiculously simple as holding a door open for another person. It was a great social experiment show, and I'm sorry to see it not air anymore.

July 10, 2008 – September 10, 2008

Okay, so the series in itself was predictable, and unless you were a dog lover, you didn't really get the hype. But this one series run of the show did have two things that were going for it. We got to see just how wonderful the love is between a dog and his/her master, and the winners of the competition (Travis and his dog Presley) were definitely the most deserving of the group to win it all.

And secondly, we got to see this dogfight between two judges...which I will happily show on this blog because I couldn't stand either one!

January 8, 2005 – January 8, 2005

No, I haven't made a typo. This show only did last one episode. When I describe what the show is all about, you'll understand why.

The show was created by Mike Fleiss of “Bachelor” fame, and the show featured Bill Long, a multi-millionaire from Arizona.

Turns out that Bill is updating his will, and he wants to decide who he should leave his entire fortune to. So, he does what almost everyone else in the world would NEVER do. Pit ten of his relatives and friends against each other to compete in a series of degrading tasks to win the whole shebang when Bill eventually passes on.

I mean...WHAT?

The fact that having a reality show competition to divvy up your possessions after you die is tacky enough. But to pit the people you supposedly love more than anything in the world against each other to win those possessions? I don't know whether I should be disgusted with Bill for suggesting such a ridiculous thing or feel sorry for him in knowing that his relatives are such gold-digging creeps.

You know, on second thought, I feel disgust. Many of the “relatives” competing in
The Will were the relatives of his wife Penny, who is the classic characterization of the phrase “gold-digging bimbo”. And, in the end, Penny was the one who WON the competition...beating out Bill's own SON!!! And, you thought your Thanksgiving dinners were hell!

The show was cancelled on CBS after one episode, and later aired in full on FOX Reality Channel. But seriously, the fact that a show like that even existed in the first place makes me want to go over to his ranch and knock it down so that nobody could have it! Easily the worst reality series of all time.

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