Reality TV once seemed entirely disposable, but it’s since proved to be a cornerstone of modern TV. The genre has now lasted long enough to have its own classics. Here are 10 hit reality shows you can binge-watch right now.
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The Amazing Race
Taking a more upbeat tone than many reality TV competitions, this globe-trotting show hosted by Phil Keoghan follows contestants as they literally race around the world. The teams (typically two people with a personal connection) sometimes end up fighting as they crack under pressure. But the show is more about discovering the wonders of the world than watching people yell at each other.
America’s Next Top Model
Host Tyra Banks introduced the world to the concept of “smizing” (smiling with your eyes, of course) with this search for the most poised of the beautiful people. Maybe not every challenge actually relates to modeling, but Banks and the show’s judges put these gorgeous contestants through the kind of rigorous competition they can expect to find in the glamorous but cutthroat real world of modeling.
Seasons 1-22 of America’s Next Top Model are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial), and seasons 1-14 are streaming on Amazon Prime Video ($119 per year after a 30-day free trial).
The Bachelor/The Bachelorette
How many people have found love on the dual versions of this reality romance franchise? Not that many, actually—at least in the long-term, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining to watch them try. Check out pretty people vying for the affections of other pretty people, all while going on glamorous “dates” and attempting to make genuine emotional connections in the presence of cameras and producers.
Three seasons each of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are streaming on HBO Max ($14.99 per month). Three seasons of The Bachelor and two seasons of The Bachelorette are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
Possibly the purest reality show, this American take on a popular international format places its participants in an isolated house outfitted with ubiquitous cameras so that they are never not being documented. There are competitions and eliminations, but for many, the real appeal of Big Brother is watching people interact when they have absolutely no way to hide from prying eyes.
Seasons 1-22 of Big Brother are streaming on CBS All Access ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
Blurring the lines between reality TV and scripted soap opera (in a way that has become increasingly common), this MTV series started out as a showcase for star Lauren Conrad’s efforts to enter the fashion industry. But Conrad’s friends (and frenemies) Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Whitney Port, Audrina Patridge, and Kristin Cavallari all took the spotlight at various times, giving The Hills a full ensemble of fascinatingly narcissistic personalities.
All six seasons of The Hills are streaming on Amazon Prime Video ($119 per year after a 30-day free trial), CBS All Access ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial), and Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
Sure, this MTV series about a group of self-proclaimed “guidos and guidettes” living in a seaside vacation house quickly became a punchline. But its ridiculousness is part of its charm, and the stars are at least partially in on the joke. No one who calls themselves “The Situation” or “Snooki” or “JWoww” lacks a sense of humor, and these cast members know exactly how to play up their absurdity for the audience.
All six seasons of Jersey Shore are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that the Kardashians are kweens of reality TV. Matriarch Kris Jenner and her daughters Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie, and Kendall have launched various business empires via their long-running E! show. Indulge in Kardashian luxurious excess and interpersonal drama while watching the family’s evolution from celebrity hangers-on to pop-culture titans.
The Real Housewives of Orange County
Bravo mastermind Andy Cohen launched reality TV’s most loved/hated franchise with this California-based series about wealthy women (who are not actually housewives) and their daily lives. There have been many Real Housewives in many locations over the years, but the Orange County version is the most enduring. All of the sniping, conniving, drinking, bonding, and partying started here.
The Real World
In many ways, this is the reality show that started it all by putting seven strangers together in an apartment to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The MTV series evolved from a somewhat serious social experiment in 1992 to more of a showcase for fame-hungry young people in subsequent years, mirroring the overall development of reality TV itself.
Seasons 1-32 of The Real World are streaming on CBS All Access ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial).
The popularity of reality competition shows started with this CBS staple, which is still going strong 20 years after its first season premiered. Host Jeff Probst presides over teams of “castaways,” who are left to fend for themselves in the inhospitable wilderness. The interpersonal dynamics are as fascinating as the survival efforts as participants form (and break) alliances. It’s a study in human nature with obstacle courses.
Seasons 1-40 of Survivor are streaming on CBS All Access ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial), seasons 1-34 are streaming on Hulu ($5.99+ per month after a seven-day free trial), and 19 select seasons are streaming on Amazon Prime Video ($119 per year after a 30-day free trial).